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3 1 















with : • j ; 






** — — — 




1' THE 

• •• A ••* 



Historical Introduction, i 

Memoir of Archibald Hamilton Row ah, 41 

Trial of Archibald Hamilton Rowan for Seditious 

I if BEL, ••• ••• <•• ••• •-• ••• Ol 

Memoir of the Rev. William Jacksok,. - -• ••• 177 

Trial of the Rev. William Jackson for High Treason, 1 87 

Some Account of the Defenders, 283 

Trials of the Defenders for High Treason, 297 

Account of William Ore's Trial and Execution, ... 481 

Trial of Peter Finertt for Seditious Libel, 497 

Trial of Patrick Finney for High Treason, 547 



Thb principles of parliamentary reform had gained considerable 
ground in Ireland previous to the year 1790 ; but their 
proselytes, to a great extent, had been amongst the aristocratic 
portion of society, and there were but few men who were 
enlightened enough to combine with a demand for parliamentary 
reform, that other equally necessary measure, the removal of 
Catholic disability. 

Parliamentary reform was a Whig measure, and the Whigs 
of Ireland had not made up their minds that its blessings 
should go beyond the pale of their own sect. The Northern 
Whig Club, founded under the fatal auspices of Lord 
Charlemont, partook of the character of its patron, and 
amongst its numbers were men distinguished, but a few years 
after its dissolution, for principles and conduct alike destructive 
to civil and religious freedom, and to national independence. 
It was founded in Belfast in March, 1790. Its career was 
brief and useless. 

A society, whose existence was pregnant with the most 
important events, which, before its destruction, involved in 
its body a considerable portion of the people, and threat- 
ened the existence of English power in Ireland, followed 
in order of time the Northern Whig Club. It occurred to a 
few young and bold spirits — found in the middle ranks of life 
in Belfast, and chiefly Presbyterians — that the great defect in 
the previous movements for a redress of political grievances 
was the sectarian bigotry which excluded the Catholics from 
any participation in the blessings of reform. The young men 
of Belfast judged justly, that the hope of obtaining a full 


representation of the people in parliament, whilst two-thirds 
of them were to be excluded from any share in it, was 
mischievous and absurd. " Our efforts for reform," said 
Neilson to his friends, " have hitherto been ineffectual, and 
they deserve to be so, for they have been selfish and unjust, as 
not including the rights of the Catholics in the claims we put 
forward for ourselves." 

The result was, that they set about the formation of a 
society which should be neither sectarian nor exclusive, but 
whose objects should be the political amelioration of all the 
people of this country. Attributing present evils to two 
causes — the want of a liberal system of popular representation 
and the existence of Catholic disability — they adopted as the 
ends of their institution two remedial measures which have 
since become parts of the British constitution. In the liberality 
of their views towards their Catholic fellow-countrymen, they 
were beyond their age in Ireland, but they went no farther 
in either of their objects than did many of the enlightened and 
liberal politicians, and some of the ablest statesmen in England. 
The Report of the Commons' Committee of Secrecy in 1798 
has given a version of the foundation and original objects of 
the United Irishmen. There are few state papers which, 
assuming a tone of philosophic candor, contains more misre- 
presentation and direct falsehood than this Report. Speaking 
of the institution of the society it says : — " The society, under 
the name of United Irishmen, it appears, was established in 1791 ; 
its founders held forth what they termed Catholic emancipation 
and parliamentary reform as the ostensible objects of their 
union; but it clearly appeared from the letter of Theobald 
Wolfe Tone, accompanying their original constitution as trans- 
mitted to Belfast for adoption, that from its commencement 
the real purposes of those who were at the head of the insti- 
tution was to separate Ireland from Great Britain, and to 
subvert the established constitution of this kingdom; in 
corroboration of which your committee have annexed to this 
Report several of their early publications, particularly a pro- 
spectus of the society which appeared in 1791, as also the 
plan of reform which they recommended to the people."* Tone 

* Report, p. 4. 


was from the commencement of his career a republican. He 
conceived that parliamentary reform was unattainable as long as 
a connection with England existed, and from the earliest 
period of his political career he struggled, either covertly or 
openly, to effect a separation between the countries. But at 
the period of the establishment of the Society of United 
Irishmen he was nearly alone in these opinions; and it is 
worthy of remark, that long after the institution of the United 
Irishmen, he, who was one of its most active founders, con- 
tinued in the confidence and service of the Catholics. They 
were not republicans, their principles were monarchical, and 
it was not until loyalty refused and repelled them, that they 
unwillingly — and never effectively — joined the republican party. 
Had Tone made his opinions public, the timid and the servile 
amongst that body would have shunned him, they would have 
withdrawn their confidence from him, and avoided his dangerous 
talents. But he continued one of their most confidential agents 
and warmest partizans to the very last, and until the pressure 
of circumstances had made their views identical with his own. 
The letter which the Report would seem to represent as a 
public document was a private communication. Its contents 
could not bind the society, and it is clear they did not, for the 
principles which he announces to be his were not adopted by 
them till a much later period. With regard to the prospectus, it 
has all the appearance of a vulgar artifice, an invention containing 
what the committee might wish to find in the original constitution 
of the society, but certainly not containing the open and avowed 
doctrines on which it acted, up to the dispersion by force of the 
Dublin branch of the Union in May, 1794. If it be not an 
invention, yet, no more than Tone's letter, could it bind the 
United Irishmen. It was not adopted in their meetings, it 
formed no part of their constitution, it lays down propositions 
which were far in advance of the acknowledged principles of 
the first society. Neither does the plan of Reform men- 
tioned in the Report of the Secret Committee, and proposed 
to the Union, contain any republicanism, nor manifest any 
desire of effecting a separation from England. Its doc- 
trines have since been recognized as fundamental doctrines of 
radical reform, have been discussed in the English House of 
Commons, and, judging from the progressing strength of 


popular opinions, are likely to become, at no very distant period, 
as much a portion of our constitution as the other obnoxious 
measures proposed by the original society of United Irishmen.* 
But there is clearer proof of the intentions of that body to be 
found in the declaration of sentiment made at a meeting con- 
vened by the leaders of the United Irishmen, and held in 
Belfast in December, 1792, when the Union had been some 
time in operation. At this meeting Samuel Neilson was 
secretary, and Charles Rankin chairman. A declaration of 
their political sentiments was made, in which they declare, 
" that a radical reform in the representation of the people had 
long been and still is the great object to which all our wishes, 
all our endeavours tend — the object which we have pursued 
and which we shall never cease to pursue until it is attained — 
that to attain it we shall think no sacrifice or risk too great ; 
and that no reform can ever be adequate or useful, satisfactory 
or just, unless all Irishmen of every description shall be equally 
and fairly represented." t Out of this meeting grew the 
assembly of northern delegates at Dungannon, who declared the 
sense of the people in resolutions expressive of their attachment 
to the form and original principles of the British Constitution, 
and of their disapproval of republican forms of government as 
applied to this country. They proceeded, however, to insist 
upon a complete parliamentary reform and upon the immediate 
and entire emancipation of the Roman Catholics, as a measure 
indispensably necessary to the safety of the country. These 
were the original views of the United Irishmen — views adopted 
by the wisdom of our own day, and carried out by the exertions 
of our ablest statesmen. The history of the times will fully 
explain how principles like these were relinquished for the 
republicanism of a later period. In the Memoir delivered 
to the government in 1798, by Messrs. Emmet, Mac- 
nevin, and O'Connor, the following statement of the views of 
the Union is given : — " The disunion that had long existed 
between the Catholics and Protestants of Ireland, particularly 
those of the Presbyterian religion, was found by experience to 
be so great an obstacle to the obtaining a reform in parliament 

* The D tike of Richmond's plan of Reform embraced annual parliaments and 
universal s uffrage. 1 Madd t 1st series, p. 102. 
f Madden *s United Irishmen, 1 vol., 2d series, p. 82. 




on anything of just and popular principles, that some persons, 
equally friendly to that measure and to religious toleration, 
conceived the idea of joining both sects in pursuance of the 
same object — a repeal of the penal laws, and a reform including 
in itself an extension of the right of suffrage to the Catholic. 
From this originated the societies of United Irishmen in the 
end of the year 1791 ; even then it was clearly perceived, that 
the chief support of the borough interest in Ireland was the 
weight of English influence; but as yet that obvious remark 
had not led the minds of the reformers towards a separation 
from England. Some individuals had convinced themselves 
that benefit would result to this country from such a measure ; 
but during the whole existence of the Society of United Irish- 
men we may safely aver, that to the best of our knowledge 
and recollection no such object was ever agitated by its 
members either in public debate or private conversation; nor 
until the society had lasted a considerable time were any traces 
of republicanism to be met with there ; its views were purely 
and in good faith what the test of the society avows."* And 
such they continued to be until the hopes raised by the King's 
Message to the House of Commons recommending the con- 
sideration of the subject of reform, and by the limited con- 
cessions to Catholics, in 1793, were dissipated by the policy of 
coercion, which was resumed in 1794, and which, with the 
slight intermission of Lord Fitzwilliam's administration, con- 
tinued to increase in vigour until the rebellion exploded. 

It would seem that despotism, frightened by the concessions 
to the Catholics, in 1793, required the soothing stimulants of 
strong measures to restore it to its propriety. These conces- 
sions were followed hot foot by the Convention bill. It was much to 

• Macnevin's Pieces of Irish History, p. 174. The test of the United Irish- 
men adopted at the first meeting of the Dublin Society, held in the Eagle Tavern, 
Eustace-street, 9th Nov., 1791, at which meeting the Hon. Simon Butler was 
chairman, and James Napper Tandy was secretary, was as follows : — 

" I. A. B., in the presence of God, do pledge myself to my country, that I will 
use all my abilities and influence in the attainment of an impartial and adequate 
representation of the Irish nation in parliament ; and as a means of absolute and 
immediate necessity in the establishment of this chief good of Ireland, I will 
endeavour as much as in my ability to forward a brotherhood of affection, an 
identity of interests, a communion of rights, and an union of power among Irish- 
men of all religious persuasions, without which every reform in parliament must 
be partial, not national, inadequate to the wants, delusive to the wishes, and 
insufficient for the freedom and happiness of this country." 


have acknowledged the social existence of the Catholics. They had, 
according to Grattan, paid two millions of taxes, without a share 
in the representation or the expenditure ; they had discharged 
the active and laborious offices of life, manufacture, husbandry, 
and commerce, without those franchises which are annexed to 
the fruits of industry ; and they had replenished the armies and 
navies of Great Britain without commission, rank, or reward ; 
it was going far then to concede to them the right to elect but 
not to be elected — it was going far to tender to them the rank of 
the officer, and the gown of the lawyer. These were partial con- 
cessions, and required, to appease the offended spirit of ascen- 
dancy, a commensurate quantity of general restriction, and the 
Convention Act, which, under the pretence of preventing unlaw- 
ful assemblies, virtually took away the right of meeting altoge- 
ther, was the palinode composed by parliament to soothe the 
ruffled spirits of the state. This act aimed directly at the system 
of delegation which had rendered the name of Dungannon for- 
midable to the ears of power — it destroyed that right of meeting 
by delegates which ensured security to the liberties of the people 
against the encroachments of a king or the corruption of a 
parliament; and it was the subsequent operation of this act 
against the meetings of the United Irishmen that changed 
their tactics, and exacted secrecy in their proceedings. The 
year 1794 was pregnant with coercion. Archibald Hamilton 
Rowan was convicted of publishing the address of the Union to 
the Volunteers, and was sentenced to two years' imprisonment and 
a fine of £500. Mr. Ponsonby's bill for reform was rejected by 
a considerable majority, and on the debate of that question 
Grattan went out of his way to attack the United Irishmen. 
He found no epithet too strong with which to stigmatize the 
"seditious bunglers" — many of whom afterwards sealed with 
their lives the sincerity of their political faith. And yet the 
plan of reform which the society proposed, and which Grattan 
denounced as levelling and subversive, was one applauded by the 
English Whigs, and recommended by the high authority of the 
Duke of Richmond. 

Fortified by the rejection of Mr. Ponsonby's bill, and no 
doubt encouraged by the tone taken on the Whig side of the 
house with regard to the United Irishmen, the enemies of reform 
took the active step of dispersing the Dublin society of the Union. 


They had given considerable offence to Government by the 
boldness of their views and the violence of th#ir manifestoes and 
speeches. It was through their means that the public mind had 
undergone so beneficial a change relative to the Catholic claims, 
and it was by the example and advice of the United Irishmen of 
Dublin that the Catholics themselves had assumed that bold 
attitude to which the concessions of 1793 were mainly attri- 
butable.* These were faults which it appears even patriotism 
could not forgive, and which drew down the vengeance of power 
upon the Society. On the 4th of May, 1794, their ordinary 
place of meeting, the Tailors' Hall, in Back-lane,t was attacked 
by the police, their meeting dispersed, and their papers seized. 
The forcible suppression of the Dublin Society primarily 
led to the change from open discussion and constitutional 
propagandism to secret plotting and conspiracy; the effects 
of which became so fatal to public peace after the recal of 
Lord Fitzwilliam. When he was sent over here, Govern- 
ment might, m6st probably, have saved the country all 
the horrors which followed. " The Parisian massacres of Sep- 
tember, 1792, had an immense effect in Ireland; men who were 
moderate republicans feared to accept freedom accompanied by 
such horrors; the Catholic aristocracy, always a timid and 
selfish body, offered to support Government in withholding their 
own privileges ; the Catholic clergy separated in a body from 
the reformers, and denounced the atheism of France from their 
altars ; if the Government had only united conciliation with 
coercion, the tranquillity of Ireland would have been ensured. 
Such was the policy the English ministers first resolved to adopt. 
Earl Fitzwilliam was sent to Ireland ; measures were introduced 
which at that crisis would have been received with enthusiastic 
gratitude ; but unfortunately the intrigues of party interfered, 
and to all the causes of discord, which had been accumulating 
for centuries, were added unexpected triumph in the party of the 
few, and unexpected disappointment in the party of the many."]: 
Lord Fitzwilliam was sent over with full powers to remove 
Catholic disabilities, and to crush the faction by which this 

• The French Republic was every where triumphant in March, 1793, the date 
of the introduction of the Belief Bill into the House of Commons, 
t Madd. U. I., 1st vol. l s. 143. 
X Historical Introduction to D». Madden's United Irishmen. 


country was misgoverned ; but the impediments he met with dis- 
appointed his expectations, and baffled his mission of peace — he 
looked to the English cabinet for support and received none — the 
Beresfords triumphed, the Catholics were sacrificed, and he 
abandoned the Government with mortification and disgust. It 
has been constantly asserted, that the appointment and the recall 
of Lord Fitzwilliam were portions of a plan of deep policy on 
the part of Mr. Pitt, and that his design was to disappoint and 
disgust all parties, in order that irritated hopes and baffled fac- 
tion might become the ripeners of rebellion. This is suscep- 
tible of argument, and is generally enough believed ;* but it 
appears too keen and subtle, too full of an impossible foresight, 
too Machiavellian even for him to whom it is attributed. It is 
more probable that the minister adopted a plan of concession 
when the temper of the times seemed to demand it, and that he 
relinquished it the moment he found himself to be, or imagined 
that he was, able to rule the country without its aid, and by the 
assistance of the oligarchic faction which Lord Fitzwilliam 
sought to destroy. However this may be, and it appears imma- 
terial whether Mr. Pitt's policy was guided by the infamous 
sagacity thus attributed to it, or that the change of measures 
arose from the facility of resuming coercion, the result of Lord 
Fitzwilliam's recall promoted the views of the republican 
section of the United Irishmen. Gentle measures would have 
rendered them innocuous; coercion, producing disappointment 
and irritation, was the apt agent of their wildest views. 

The expectations of the Catholics were immoderately high ; 
their despondency was proportionately great. They could have 
been made loyal without difficulty. Loyalty with them was a 
prompt, not to say a slavish, virtue. The distinguished servility 
of Lords Kenmare and Gormanstown might not, indeed, have 
been easily equalled amongst the most ignorant of the democratic 
portion of their body ; but yet they were open to the seduction 
of ministerial promise, and would have given a vast deal 
of practical gratitude for very little practical good. These 
loyal and servile tendencies received a rough shock from the 
recall of the popular viceroy, and in the revulsion of disap- 
pointed hope the Catholics caught a new fire from the United 

* Plowden distinctly assumes it as an uncontrovertible proposition. 


Irishmen. From this period both of these bodies, not hitherto 
much animated by common impulses, began to look to identical 
means in the prosecution of their objects, and these objects gra- 
dually began to define themselves, and assume the form of repub- 
licanism and religious equality. Were any thing wanted to 
drive the Catholics into the ranks of the Union, it was supplied 
by the crimes of the Orangemen, committed against the unfor- 
tunate and proscribed members of that religion. They were 
made the victims " of a persecution conceived in the bitterness 
of bigotry, carried on with the most ferocious barbarity, by a 
banditti, who, being of the religion of the state, had committed 
with the greater audacity and confidence the most horrid 
murders, and had proceeded from robbery and massacre to 

In this state of affairs, so promising to the friends of revolu- 
tion, the change of the United system took place. The Report 
of the Secret Committee says, " For the first three years their 
attention was entirely directed to the engaging in their society 
persons of activity and talent, in every quarter in the kingdom ; 
and in preparing the public mind for their future purposes by 
the circulation of the most seditious publications, particularly 
the works of Thomas Paine.f At this time, however, the leaders 
were rather cautious of alarming minds not sufficiently ripe for 
the adoption of their principles by the too open disclosure of the 
real objects they had in view. In 1795 the test of the society 
underwent a striking revision ; the words in the amended test 
stand * a full representation of all the people,' omitting the words 
'in the Commons House of parliament,' and the reason for 
which has been admitted by the members of the executive, 
examined before your committee, to be the better to reconcile 
reformers and republicans in a common exertion to overthrow the 

The three gentlemen referred to, Messrs. Emmet, Macnevin, 
and O'Connor, in their memoir, seem to contradict the latter 
part of this statement, and one would probably attach more im- 
portance to their account than to a document like this state paper, 

\ These wo 
: sanction o 

X Report, p. 5. 

f These works were circulated largely by the Whig party in England, under 
the sanction of Fox and Erskine, and the other eminent leaders. 


drawn up and prepared as it is with profound skill and commen- 
surate falsehood. Even at this period, when the Union had 
commenced to be a private association, meeting under the sanc- 
tion of an oath, and with a test amended in the way that it has 
been mentioned, the great body of them, so far from contem- 
plating revolution as their favored alternative, would gladly have 
accepted a reform in parliament, and the removal of Catholic 
disabilities as the fulfilment of their highest expectations ; such 
is at least the evidence of three of their ablest and most trusted 
leaders. After having stated that the suppression of the Dublin 
society of United Irishmen, and the other stringent measures had 
led to the formation of new bodies, preserving the popular name 
of United Irishmen, but differing in their plan and with an 
amended test, the memoir proceeds, " the first of these societies 
was, as we best recollect, in the year 1795. In order to secure 
co-operation and uniformity of action, they organized a system 
of committees, baronial, county, provincial, and even national ; 
but it was long before the skeleton of this organization was filled 
up. While the formation of these societies was in agitation, the 
friends of liberty were gradually, but with a timid step, advancing 
towards republicanism; they began to be convinced that it 
would be as easy to obtain a revolution as a reform, so obstinately 
was the latter resisted, and as this conviction impressed itself on 
their minds they were inclined not to give up the struggle, but 
to extend their views ; it was for this reason that in their test the 
words are * an equal representation of all the people of Ireland,' 
without inserting the word * parliament/ The test embraced 
both the republican and the reformer, and left to future circum- 
stances to decide to which the common strength should be directed ; 
but still the whole body we are convinced would stop at reform"* 
It is not necessary for me to give the details of the change in 
the civil organization which took place in the Union, and which 
was completed on I Oth May, 1795. The reader will find them 
in the evidence of Thomas Reynolds, upon the trials of M'Cann, 
Byrne, and Bond.t In addition to the change of the test 
already alluded to, an oath of secrecy was added ; and after the 
meeting of the executive directory of the society, May, 1796, 

* Macnevin's Pieces of Irish History, 176. And see the cross-examination of 
Reynolds on Bond's trial, 
f See post. 


in which it was resolved to seek for foreign aid, the military 
organization grew out of the civil system.* 

The existence of the military organization was well known to 
Government, from April 14th, 1797, by means of Nicholas 
Mag-uan, a traitor, who was colonel in the military system. Dr. 
Macnevin says the organization commenced to be military in the 
latter end of 1796, and we find this Maguan communicating the 
details of the Provincial meeting of Ulster, with the returns of 
arms and ammunition, of the date of the 14th April, 1797, 
and thenceforward until the 31st May, 1798. This Maguan's 
secret information is thus prefaced in the Appendix of the Se- 
cret Committee of the Commons : — " The information contained 
in this number of the Appendix was received from Nicholas 
Maguan, of Saintfield, in the county of Down, who was him- 
self a member of the Provincial and County Committees, and 
also a Colonel in the military system of United Irishmen.f He 

• Dr. Macnevin gives the following account of the system, in his examination 
before the Secret Committee of the House of Lords, on the 7th August, 1796 : — 

Q. When did you become an United Irishman ? A. About September or Oc- 
tober, 1796, 1 became a member of the close society of United Irishmen ; it con- 
sisted of societies, at first, composed of thirty-six members, afterwards these 
societies were reduced to twelve members ; each society of twelve chose a secre- 
tary, and generally a treasurer. 

Q. What was the next higher society ? A. The Secretaries of five societies 
formed a lower Baronial Committee ; out of each of the lower Baronial Com- 
mittees one person was chosen to be a member of the upper Baronial, each of the 
upper Baronials consisted of ten members thus chosen. The next superior com- 
mittees were, in populous towns, District Committees ; and County Committees, 
in counties ; these were composed of one member elected from each Baronial. 
The next superior Committees were the Provincial Committees, composed of two 
members, sometimes three, elected from each County Committee. 

Q. How was the Executive chosen ? A. Each Provincial Committee elected 
five persons by ballot, the secretary examined the ballots, and reported to the 
persons elected their appointment ; but made no report of the election to the Pro- 
vincial, who were thus kept in ignorance of the persons who composed the Execu- 
tive. The Executive had the command of the whole body thus organized. 

Q. What was the organization originally? A. At first it was purely a civil 
organization; but I believe it was military in Ulster, about the latter end of 1796, 

Q. What was the nature of the military organization ? A. The Secretary of 
the society of twelve was the petty officer, that is, Serjeant or Corporal ; the De- 
legate of five societies to a lower Baronial was usually the Captain, and thus had 
sixty men under his command ; and the Delegate of ten lower Baronials to the 
Upper or District Committee was usually the Colonel, and thus a battalion was 
composed of six hundred. The Colonels of each county sent in the names of 
three persons to the Executive, one of whom was appointed by the Executive 
Adjutant-General of the county, his duty was to receive and communicate all 
military orders from the Executive. (App. to Report of the Commons' Committee, 

| Dr. Madden gives an account of this informer which would lead us to sup- 
pose that the representation of his being a colonel in the military system was a 
falsehood. " This Magin, (for such was his name) of Saintfield, in tne county of 


was present at each of the meetings, of which an account is here 
given ; and from time to time, immediately after each meeting, 
communicated what passed thereat to the Rev. J. Cleland, a 
magistrate of that county. The person giving this information 
has since verified it upon oath, before the Committee of the 
Lords, and Mr. Cleland has likewise sworn that the papers pre- 
sented to the Committee contain the exact information so com- 
municated to him by Maguan." These papers commence with 
a return of the arms and ammunition in the possession of the 
Union, in the ten northern counties, and is dated the 14th April, 
1797. There is a great mass of information upon the numbers, 
organization, and objects of the Union. The various meetings 
of the northern counties, the names of the members attending 
them, «and the business transacted are given in detail, and 
extends from the above date to the 31st May, 1 798, so that for one 
whole year the Executive of the country were intimately 
acquainted with the conspiracy against them in the North of 
Ireland ; at any moment they could have arrested the active 
members of the Union, and crushed its designs in that part of the 
country in which republicanism could count its staunchest and 
most numerous friends, and if the government had proceeded 
with vigor there, they would have fdund little difficulty in 
baffling the efforts of treason in the other provinces. The infor- 
mation, too, which they obtained through the profligate agency 
of this double traitor, was of so full and ample a nature as to 
have enabled them to prosecute their efforts successfully, in 
utterly destroying the organization, detecting the leaders, and 

Down, was a poor man, holding a few acres of ground in the neighbourhood of 
Saintfield. If the services rendered by Magin are to be estimated by the amount 
of their reward they must have been considerable. The following items, at least, 
will give some idea of the estimation in which they were held — 

August 16, 1798 J. Magin £700 

„ 17, Do. Do 56 17 6 

Notwithstanding the immense sum of money lavished on him— from being an 
industrious, honest man, previously to his new pursuits as an informer, he became 
an improvident, indolent, dissipated person, addicted to gambling, and in the 
course of a few years his easily gotten wealth was gone, and he had to earn his 
bread in the neighbourhood of Belfast, as a common working gardener ; and in 
this employment he died there a few years ago." — Madden, 1 vol. 1 series, p. 327. 
The list from which Dr. Madden has given the above items, and which he has pub- 
lished in the appendix to his interesting volumes, is a most extraordinary docu- 
ment. From August, 1797, to Sept., 1798, government allocated £38,4l9 8s., 
to the payment of every ruffian who had a conscience and a country to sell, or a 
friend to betray. There are some names in the list which will add new honors to 
the proudest families in the land. The publication is a benefit. It may serve to 
prevent the recurrence of the practices it records. 


bringing the guilty parties to justice. It is difficult to understand 
the policy which permitted a treasonable conspiracy to proceed 
to the most formidable length, to organize a country, to spread 
the ramifications of discontent through a whole people, at the 
same time that the government of the country were well 
aware of its existence, watched its progress, and could have 
crushed it at a blow. It is not too much to say that solid 
reasons are required to justify this conduct, and to exonerate 
the persons who then governed the country from being justly 
charged with the brutal wisdom of permitting a whole people to 
become implicated in crime, for the sinister purpose of wresting 
from them, amidst the horrors of an unsuccessful rebellion, their 
national independence and honor. This is a charge not lightly to 
be made, and one that we should be slow to believe. But there 
are circumstances, which they, who defend the conduct of the 
government of that day, are called upon to explain, and the 
satisfactory explanation of which is necessary to their exculpa- 
tion. We are not to forget that the Rev. William Jackson, an 
emissary of France — a man chosen for the guilty object of 
disseminating treason, and scattering the seeds of rebellion 
amongst a loyal people — was permitted to visit this country, 
although his objects were known to the English minister, while 
he was in London on his way from Paris. He was guilty of 
high treason in the capital of Great Britain — that treason was 
known to the government — the object of his mission was detailed 
to them. Tet he was left free to proceed to Ireland to tender 
the assistance of a foreign power for the purpose of overthrow- 
ing the established government. There was no impediment 
offered to him. He was not made — as in mercy to the people of 
Ireland he ought to have been made — a victim to his own uncon- 
summated treason. He was allowed to go amongst a people — 
at that time at least untouched to any great extent by what were 
called " French principles" — the permitted apostle of these 
principles, the corrupter, and the tempter. Coupling this with 
the other no less undoubted fact, that from the moment the 
military organization of the Union commenced, the government 
had the most accurate information of its whole details, it is 
difficult to conceive that rebellion was not in their eyes, in some 
sort, an object to be attained — not a calamity to be avoided. 
And if such a policy were pursued, it is not too much to lay at the 


door of the men who pursued it all the crimes and outrages of 1 798. 
Mr. Curran, in his interesting biography of his father, whilst he 
appears to doubt that the object of government was to " foment 
conspiracy in order that the excesses to which it would lead, 
might reconcile the nation to a legislative Union;" yet adds, 
"that, however vulgar and improbable the supposition may 
appear, it is still perhaps the only one that can satisfactorily 
explain the inconsistencies and infatuation of their councils."* 

The change in the system of the United Irishmen by which 
a military organization was engrafted upon the civil, and with 
which it has been seen that the Government was perfectly 
acquainted, took place in the latter part of the year 1796, and 
was hastened by several important events which occurred during 
that year. The vigorous pressure of Government at home and 
the arrival of the French in Bantry Bay, in December, 1796, 
tended equally to the same object. By the former the people 
were driven to despair, and by the latter the ruling faction was 
at once terrified and enraged. The severity of Government 
increased the popular resentment, and the fear and hatred of 
France gave new vigour to the system of coercion and persecu- 
tion. The Insurrection Act (Feb. 1796), by which, to use the 
words of the Secret Committee, " the Lord Lieutenant and 
council were enabled upon the requisition of seven magistrates 
of any court assembled at a session of the peace to declare the 
whole or any part thereof to be in a state of disturbance, within 
which limits the law, giving increased power to the magistracy, 
was to have effect," was passed through Parliament with little 
opposition except from Grattan, Ponsonby, and Lord Edward 
Fitzgerald. This bill was designated by Mr. Ponsonby " the 
grave of the Constitution." It might more correctly be termed 
'the cradle of rebellion.' It revived the ancient despotism of 
the curfew ; it enabled a partisan and factious magistracy to put 
their country outside the law, to send obnoxious or suspected 
persons on board the fleet, and under its sanction and the pre- 
tence of searching for arms, to force open the houses of the 
peasants at any hour of the day or night. An indemnity act had 
previously passed, and though it did not provide for the commis- 
sion of future acts of violence, it bestowed so large a measure of 

* Curran's Life. 1 Vol. p. 374. 


oblivion for the past, that the people might well suppose that no 
crime could be committed against them. If we are to credit the 
testimony of Grattan and Ponsonby, the prisoners were taken 
from goal just before the assizes, when they ought to have been 
tried, and sent on board the King's ships ; and the magistrates on 
conference together were in the habit at their pleasure of arrest- 
ing and dragging the peasants from their beds at midnight, and 
transporting them without trial of any kind. Lord Carhampton 
was distiguished for the same infamous lawlessness. For crimes 
like these against the peace of the community and the con- 
stitution of the country, the parliament provided a wholesale 

These two measures — one of them arming the magistracy with 
extraordinary powers, and the other indemnifying them for gross 
misconduct and oppression, and thereby indicating the impunity 
likely to attend the repetition of their insolent disregard to law 
— were provocatives, unhappily too strong for the uneasy spirits 
of the people. The Catholic Defenders complained, and it 
would appear but too justly, that the provisions of the Insurrec- 
tion Act were exclusively aimed at them, and were inoperative 
against the Peep-o'-day-boys, whose outrages had produced their 
retributive crimes. They felt themselves exposed to the brutal 
and inhuman persecution of " an atrocious banditti, whose bar- 
barity exceeded that of modern times, and brought back the 
recollection of the ancient ferocity and bloodshed." They had no 
hope from Government ; it was the powerful ally of triumphant 
faction ; and if thenceforward they became ready for any change, 
it was because no change could make them worse. 

Following upon these acts of Parliament, bills were brought in 
for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus and for the establish- 
ment of the Yeomanry. The vigor of the Executive equalled 
that of the Parliament. Proclamations were issued with various 
preambles but with one intent — to arm the Magistracy and 
Yeomanry with unlimited power over the lives, property, and 
liberties of the people. 

Lord Camden's proclamation of 17th May, 1797, giving 
increased powers to the military, and declaring that the civil 
authority was ineffectual to preserve the public peace, let loose 
upon the country the furious passions of an unbridled soldiery. 
The letters of Mr. Pelham the secretary to the commander-in-chief 


the Earl of Carhampton (whose name acquired fresh historical 
celebrity during this period) imparted to him unrestricted power 
over the habitations and persons of the people.* The military 
were ordered to act without waiting for any directions from civil 
magistrates in the dispersion of all meetings which they might 
consider tumultuous, unlawful, or threatening to the public peace. 
The houses of the living and the coffins of the dead were alike 
violated in the pursuit of hidden arms. Gay meetings were dis- 
persed by the armed rabble who overran the country. Nor was 
the sombre march of death left uninterrupted. The Executive had 
detected organization in the funeral train and arms in the coffins: 
and the luxury of joy and sorrow was equally prohibited by the 
martial discretion which then governed the people with a rod of 
iron. In fine, the country was a pandemonium of military 
demons. The houses of the peasantry were broken open at night 
— men were whipped, hanged, or shot at their doors without a 
pretence or shadow of trial — the cabins of humble industry were 
set on fire by drunken military mobs, and the inhabitants bayo- 
netted or shot as they sought to escape from the flames of their 
own homesteads. Lust, rapine, and murder rushed through the 
land in appalling companionship; — and yet, speaking of the 
results of this proclamation, the Report of the Committee calls it a 
measure of " mercy and warning " and is surprised that it was 
thrown away upon the rebellious obduracy of an affrighted, 
tortured, maddened population ! 

It certainly was not thrown away upon them. Its fruits were 
visible enough in the enormities of the rebellion, which was 
hastily advancing, and which only waited for a few more " well- 
timed measures to procure an " explosion."! One of these 
measures, which deserve notice for many reasons, was the death 
of William Orr. His conviction was not that of a common 
criminal, which might be either the just retribution of crime, or 
the mistaken severity of angry justice. It was felt to be a 
deliberate murder perpetrated by the government of the day for 
its own purposes on an innocent man. It was looked upon as a 
national calamity: for Orr was popular beyond his sphere, 

* Pelham's Letter, Report of, See Com. App. xi. 

f Lord Castlereagh asked one of the state prisoners " would not the Union have 
become stronger but for the means taken to make it explode?" Pieces of Irish 
History, p. 208. 


and respected through the country, as one well endowed with 
superior qualifications of mind and body. His alleged crime 
was the administering the United Irishman's oath ; and the 
evidence against him was that of a perjured murderer. He 
was arraigned in October, 1797, to plead to an indictment 
under the Insurrection act. He was found guilty by a drunken 
jury, three of whom made affidavits of their drunkenness before 
the judge who tried him — he was recommended to mercy, respited 
three times, and hanged.* 

From the moment of this judicial murder, until the extinction 
erf the rebellion, the United Irishmen were the peculiar objects of 
the vengeance of the Executive. The attempt of the French at 
Bantry Bay stimulated the energy of Government ; and the con- 
viction and execution of Orr preceded but by a few months the 
arrests of the Leinster delegates, the Dublin Executive, and the 
second Directory. 

The former were arrested at the house of Oliver Bond, in 
Lower Bridge Street, on the 12th of March, 1798. The parti- 
culars of their arrest will be found in the Evidence of Swan, who 
was one of the confidential agents of the Castle in those days.f 
Fourteen of the delegates fell into the power of the Government, 
all of whom were returned from localities in Leinster, and the 
principal persons amongst them were William Michael Byrne, 
and John M'Cann. Oliver Bond was arrested at the same 

These arrests were followed by others still more important. 
On the same day, Emmet, Macnevin, Jackson, and Sweet- 
man, the Leinster Executive, fell into the power of Government, 
O'Connor having been previously, for a considerable period, a 
prisoner in the Birmingham Tower in the Castle. The arrest of 
these gentlemen, deprived the Union of its ablest leaders. Neilson 
and Lord E. Fitzgerald were the only persons now left to carry 
their designs into execution, excepting the two unfortunate bro- 
thers Henry and John Sheares, who were chosen to fill the vacan- 
cies, occasioned by the arrests of the members of the Executive.} 

* " Remember Orr" was a watchword of rebellion, and medals were struck 
with his name. 

t Trial of M'Cann, post, p. 

X Madd. United Ir., 2 v., 2 series, p. 293. 


The new Directors fixed upon the 23d of May for the general 
rising ; but the hopes of success had gradually grown less with 
delay and disappointment, and the rebellion might have been said 
to have been crushed before it commenced. The last and the 
greatest blow, of all was the arrest of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, 
on the 19th of May, followed by that of the Sheareses, on the 
2 1st, and of Neilson, on the 23d. 

" When all their secrets were betrayed, all their measures 
known, and all their leaders seized, the United Irishmen allowed 
the rebellion to begin. It had been too long languishing and 
uncertain to inspire the people with confidence or enthusiasm ; it 
was ill concerted, worse directed, received with coldness by some 
and terror by others ; there was division between its leaders, 
there was disunion amongst its followers, it had neither guidance 
nor support. In fact, it might have been said to have been dead 
before its birth, had not the Government forced it into premature 
existence, by the stimulants of whipping and free quarters."* 
Similar testimony of the efficacious measures of Government to 
elaborate rebellion, is borne by the Report of the Secret Com- 
mittee. This document says — " It appears that from the 
vigorous and summary expedients resorted to by Government, and 
the consequent exertions of the military, the leaders found them- 
selves reduced to the alternative of immediate insurrection or of 
being deprived of the means on which they relied for effecting their 
purpose ; and that to this cause is exclusively to be attributed 
that premature and desperate effort, the rashness of which has 
so evidently facilitated its suppression."! 

In the notes of Mr. Emmet's examination before the Com- 
mittee of the Lords, August 10, 1798, the following question 
and answer appear : — 

Lord Cliancellor : Pray, Mr. Emmet, what caused the late in- 
surrection ? 

Emmet : The free quarters, the house burnings, the tortures 
and the military executions in the counties of Kildare, Carlow, 
and Wicklow. 

The evidence of Mr O'Connor is still fuller on this subject. 
In his examination before the Commons' Committee of Secrecy, 
he was asked a similar question : 

Q. How was the late rising occasioned ? 

* Introduction to Maddens United Irishmen. t R*P> P- 30* 



A. I have already told you how : from the beginning of the 
French Revolution the measures pursued by the British ministry 
and the Irish Government have worked up the minds of the 
people of Ireland to their present highly irritated state — at one 
time raising their hopes — at another time blasting these hopes ; 
at one time promising Emancipation and Reform — and at another 
time resisting both with fire and sword, burning houses, hanging, 
lashing, and torturing ; means unjustifiable to support any sys- 
tem, and which a just Government could not for one instant stand 
in need of. These no human patience could endure, and yet 
(from a conviction that they were practised to goad the people 
to a premature attempt to put down their oppressors) as long as 
I could remain I used every means in my power to endure a 
little longer ; but when, to avoid being dispatched, I was forced 
to fly, those in whose hands the Executive power of the Union 
was vested yielded to the pressing solicitations of the people of 
the most oppressed parts, who were desirous to risk their lives in 
order to rid themselves of the cruelties they hourly experienced. 

Dr. Macnevin gives the same testimony in his examination 
(August 8, 1798) before the same Committee : 

Speaker : Pray, sir, what do you think occasioned the insur- 
rection ? 

Macnevin: The insurrection was (occasioned by the house- 
burnings, the whippings to extort confession, the torture of 
various kinds, the free quarters, and the murders committed upon 
the people by the magistrates and the army. 

Speaker : This only took place since the insurrection. 

Macnevin — It is more than twelve months since these horrors 
were perpetrated by the Antient Britons about Newry ; and long 
before the insurrection, they were quite common through the 
counties of Kildare and Carlow, and began to be practised with 
very great activity, in the counties of Wicklow and Wexford. 

Carry and Latouche — Yes, a few houses were burned. 

Macnevin — Gentlemen, there were a great deal more than a 
few houses burned. * * • * 

Lord Castlereagh — Were not the different measures of the 
Government, which are complained of, subsequent to various 
proceedings of the United Irishmen ? 

Macnevin — Prior, my Lord, to most of them ; if your Lord- 
ship desires it, I will prove by comparison of dates, that Govern-* 


ment throughout, has been the aggressor. (His Lordship was 
not curious-) 

There can be no difficulty in interpreting the phrases, " the 
vigorous and summary expedients resorted to by Government/' 
and " the consequent exertions of the military." 

By a proclamation of the 30th March, the country was 
declared in a state of rebellion. This was certainly not the 
truth, for no blow had as yet been struck, nor any rising taken 
place. The country was every where lighted with the flames of 
the houses of the people. The lash resounded on all sides ; 
half strangulation, pitch caps, and triangles were in use through 
the different counties, and it is said, on competent authority, 
were most used where the people were least disaffected. But 
as yet, they had endured, nor had they, at the period of the 
proclamation, been goaded into open resistance by the mistaken 
severities of the Government party. The readers of the history 
of that day, will well remember the memorable description of the 
army, given by the gallant and humane Abercrombie, " They 
were, from their licentiousness, formidable to every one but the 
enemy." It is difficult, in one glance, to comprehend the 
whole picture of misery in which they bore such conspicuous 
parts. We may take, as an example of the result of letting 
them loose upon the people, the facts connected with the 
rebellion in Wexford. The movement there was isolated; 
it was not in connection with that going on elsewhere ; it was 
forced into being by the scenes of tremendous cruelty which 
took place in a county not sworn in the united system, not 
discontented, and not disloyal. But the fact of its peaceful and 
loyal tendencies had no effect in preserving its inhabitants from 
the visitation of free quarters, and all the consequent evils, and 
as though to justify the proclamation of the 30th March, Wex- 
ford was subjected to the discretion of the soldiers. " They 
became masters of every house in the country, the real owners 
were obliged to procure them every necessary they thought 
proper to demand, and as their will was then the only law, and 
a very imperious and tyrannical law it was, the people dared not, 
except at the risk of their lives, complain of any outrage or 
brutality of which their savage disposition prompted them to be 
guilty. The inevitable consequence was, that such horrid acts 
were perpetrated, such shocking scenes were exhibited, as must 


rouse the indignation, and provoke the abhorrence of all not 
dead to human feeling, or not barbarised by unnatural hatred of 
their fellow creatures."* Wexford was unvisited by the Orange 
system until April, 1798, and it was, therefore, untainted by 
that spirit of insurrectionary fury which was sure to be evoked 
wherever the principles and practices of the Orangemen existed. 
The truth is, the people believed that the Orange system was 
formed for their extermination. It was a mistake pregnant with 
evil, for the spirit of resistance which it created was furious and 
sanguinary. And though, doubtless, it was imputing to that 
system an object which it would be difficult to bring home to it, 
the conduct of the Orangemen furnished some excuse for the 
error. With Lord Eingsborough and the North Cork Militia, 
Orangeism became known, for the first time, in Wexford, in 
April, 1798, and with the loyalty of the system, some other 
attendant blessings were bestowed upon the population, which 
worked out their due effects in the following months. " It is 
said that the North Cork Regiment were the inventors, but they 
certainly were the introducers of the pitch cap torture into 
Wexford. Any person having their hair cut short (and there- 
fore called a Croppy, by which appellation the soldiery desig- 
nated a United Irishman,) on being pointed out by some loyal 
neighbour, was immediately seized and brought into a guard- 
house, where caps, either of coarse linen or strong brown paper, 
besmeared inside with pitch, were kept ready for service. The 
unfortunate victim had one of these, well heated, compressed on 
his head, and when judged of a proper degree of coolness, so 
that it could not be easily pulled off, the sufferer was turned out 
amidst the horrid acclamations of the merciless torturers, and 
to the view of vast numbers of people who generally crowded 
about the guard-house door, attracted by the afflicting cries of 
the tormented. Many of those persecuted in this manner, expe- 
rienced additional anguish, from the melted pitch trickling into 
their eyes. This afforded a rare addition of enjoyment to these 
keen sportsmen, who reiterated their horrid yells of exultation, 
on the repetition of the several accidents, to which their game 
was liable on being turned out, for, in the fury and hurry of 

* Hay's History of the Rebellion. This gentleman was an eye witness of what 
he states. 


escaping from the ferocious hands of these more than savage 
barbarians, the blinded victims frequently fell, or dashed their 
heads against the walls in their way. The pain of disengaging 
this pitch cap from the head, must be intolerable. The hair was 
often torn out by the roots, and, not unfrequently, parts of the 
skin were so scalded or blistered as to adhere to, and come off 
along with it. The terror and dismay, that these outrages occa- 
sioned, are inconceivable. A serjeant of the North Cork, named 
Tom the Devil, was most ingenious in devising new modes of 
torture. Moistened gunpowder was frequently rubbed into the 
hair, cut close, and then set on fire. Some, while shearing for 
this purpose, had the ears nipped off; sometimes an entire ear, 
and often both ears were completely cut off, and many lost part 
of their noses during the like preparation. But, strange to tell, 
these atrocities were publicly practised, without the least reserve, 
in open day, and no magistrate or officer ever interfered, but 
shamefully connived at this extraordinary mode of quieting the 
people. Females were also exposed to the grossest insults from 
the military ruffians. Many women had their petticoats, hand- 
kerchiefs, caps, ribbons, and all parts of their dress that exhi- 
bited the shade of green, (considered the national colour of 
Ireland,) torn off, and their ears assailed by the grossest 

All the new devices of cruelty, it is observable, were of Irish 
origin. The spirit of Orangeism was inventive ; for whilst the 
mercenary soldiers of England contented themselves with the 
hackneyed crimes of lust and murder, the Irish Orangeman em- 
ployed a genius, versed in torment, in the discovery of some- 
thing new and striking in oppression. If the reiteration of 
scenes and deeds like these were successful in rousing the 
hitherto tranquil county of Wexford, one may imagine that in 
other places, where the United Irishmen had succeeded in 
extending their organization, they were eminently adapted to 
drive the people into resistance. Loyalty was a virtue whose 
fruits were burning houses, whippings, and half hangings. 
Many wretches were taken from their cabins, strung up as if to 
be hanged, indulged in the first agonies of strangulation, and 

• Hay's Irish Rebellion, and sec Life of Sampson in Madden's V. Irishman, 
2 v. 2 series, 353. 


then respited for the purpose of giving information, if they pos- 
sessed it, or inventing it, if they did not. Men whose trades 
brought them amongst the people, such as carpenters and smiths, 
were selected, by virtue of their calling, as fit objects for experi- 
mental torment, and many of them expired under the merciless 
lash of the persecutor, or were shot by the ruthless yeoman. A 
Protestant historian of the rebellion furnishes us with the fol- 
lowing details — " I now heard of many punishments of suspected 
persons, both by flogging and strangulation, being put into 
execution in the barracx yard in Ross, to extort confessions of 
guilt. There were two of these victims brought from the bar- 
rack yard to the Court House, to undergo a repetition of former 
punishments. One of them of the name of Driscol, was found 
in Camlin Wood, near Ross, where he said he generally wan- 
dered as a hermit ; upon him were found two Roman Catholic 
prayer books, with which, it was supposed, he administered oaths 
of disloyalty; he had been half strangled three times, and 
flogged four times during confinement, but to no purpose ; his 
fellow-sufferer was one Fitzpatrick, of Dunganstown, near 
Sutton's parish, he was a schoolmaster, he was not strangled, 
however, but flogged with great severity, and it was not with 
dry eyes that I saw the punishment inflicted upon this humble 
pioneer of literature. About a month after the battle, both 
these men were tried before General Cowley, and matters 
appearing no farther against them than I have stated, they were 
liberated from a close and filthy confinement ; the General pre- 
sented both with a small sum of money, expressing a good-na- 
tured concern that he could not then give them greater pecuniary 
assistance."* The Rev. Mr. Gordon, a clergyman of the 
Established Church, who resided near Gorey, in Wexford, and 
who was a witness of the various extraordinary facts contained 
in his history, affords us further unimpeachable testimony in aid 
of the statements made by Messrs. Emmet, O'Connor and 
Macnevin — " Whether an insurrection, in the then existing state 
of the kingdom, would have taken place in the county of Wexford, 
or, in case of eruption, how far less formidable and sanguinary 
it would have been if no acts of severity had been committed by 
the soldiery, the yeomen, or their supplementary associates, 

* Alexander's Account of the Rebellion, p. 28. 


without the direct authority of their superiors, or command of 
the magistrates, is a question I am not able positively to answer. 
In the neighbourhood of Gorey, if I am not mistaken, the 
terror of the whippings was, in particular, so great, that the 
people would have been extremely glad to renounce, for ever, 
all notions of opposition to Government, if they could have 
been assured of permission to remain in a state of quietness. 
As an instance of this terror, I shall relate the following fact — 
4 On the morning of the 23d of May, a labouring man, named 
Denis M'Daniel, came to my house with looks of the utmost 
consternation and dismay, and confessed to me that he had taken 
the United Irishman's oath, and had paid for a pike, with which 
he had not yet been furnished, nine pence half-penny, to one 
Kilty, a smith, who had administered the oath to him and many 
others. Whilst I sent my eldest son, who was a Lieutenant of 
Yeomanry, to arrest Kilty, I exhorted M'Daniel to surrender 
himself to a magistrate, and make his confession ; but that he 
positively refused to do, saying that he should, in that case, be 
lushed to make him produce a pike which he had not, and to con* 
fess what he knew not. I then advised him, as the only alter- 
native, to remain quietly at home, promising that if he should 
be arrested on the information of others, I would represent his 
case to the magistrates. He took my advice ; but the fear of 
arrest and lashing had so taken possession of his thoughts that 
he could neither eat nor sleep, and on the morning of the 25th 
he fell on his face and expired, in a grove near my house.' "* 
We may imagine the frequency and horror of that punishment, 
the mere contemplation of which, could produce such an effect ; 
and we may take this single figure, as a correct specimen of the 
national grouping of victims and tormentors, which shocked 
the senses of humanity in that memorable year. These were 
the practices — monstrous punishments, unheard of in civilized 
Europe, reproductions of the cruelties of ancient times, or copies 
from the despotisms of Asia — of Irishmen on Irishmen, at the 
bidding, and to serve the policy of the English Minister. This 
mangling of the body, this sport extracted from the agonies of 
the sufferer, from his blinded eyes or tortured back — this base 
disregard to female honor, did more to produce rebellion than 
all the plottings, conspiracies, and sedition of the day. 

* Gordon's History of the Irish Rebellion, p. 87. 


It is fortunately no part of the design of this Introduction 
which does but briefly indicate the facts, with which the following 
trials are conversant — to enter upon a detail of the scenes of 
1798. Remembering the rebuke of Abercrombie to the army, 
we may easily conceive that every atrocity, which could be 
devised and executed by licentious power, was committed by 
them, and we are not, therefore, to be much astonished at the 
dreadful retaliation of a peasantry, which had to exact vengeance 
for the murder, or violation, of the dearest relatives and friends. 
If it were worth argument in this place, it would be easy to 
show that the savage acts of the people were, all of them, sub- 
sequent to some inhuman and wholesale cruelty, practised by the 
yeomen or soldiery ; and that, detestable as the conduct of the 
rebels was, it was retributive, not aggressive. But there are 
better lessons to be learned from the history of that day than 
those taught by faction and party hatred. The people were 
driven into a rebellion in which — by death in the field, on the 
gallows, or by torture — seventy thousand men perished. Ireland 
was left in a state of exhaustion, and not of tranquillity ; of 
rancorous hatred to men who used their victory as a scourge ; 
so deeply, so universally disaffected as to require, ever since, 
with the exception of a short period, the presence of a large 
army to preserve an unwilling dependency to the Crown of Eng- 
land. The rebellion might have been avoided : the concession 
of favours, which have since been yielded to the people, would 
have satisfied their wishes, and completely baffled the designs of 
the republicans. Concession was refused, coercion deliberately 
adopted, and the Government trusted to the bloody experiment 
of unsuccessful rebellion, to enable them to crush the spirit and 
complete the subjection of the people. The experience of times 
near our own, is sufficient evidence of the failure of the attempt. 

The events of the rebellion passed rapidly and bloodily on. 
Two months' hard fighting demonstrated the superiority of mili- 
tary organization, over the undisciplined courage of the people. 
The Northern insurrection terminated with the abortive battles 
of Antrim and Ballinahinch ; the Leinster rebellion, after a 
brief but desperate career, was crushed at Vinegar Hill, and 
with the capitulation of Ovidstown, on the 12th of July, the 
assemblages of armed masses may be said to have ceased. The 
last affair was followed by the massacre of a body of the United 


Irishmen who had capitulated, on the Rath of the Curragh of 
Kildare. This monstrous act was committed, if we are to 
believe the authorities on the subject, and I see no reason to 
doubt them, by the command of Major-General Sir James Duff, 
and principally by the agency of Captain Bagot's yeomanry 
cavalry, and Lord Roden's Foxhunters. The same cruelty 
which had forced the rebellion into being, attended it in all its 
stages, and was active long after all hope had departed from the 
rebel camps. There never was an insurrection punished more 
inhumanly. The despatches of the military authorities are full 
of details of hangings, shootings, and burnings, whose flippancy 
affords too pregnant proof of the frequency of savage punish- 
ment. No quarter was given in the field, and the fate of any 
prisoner, brought before the court-martials, was assured and cer- 
tain. Hurried trial and instant conviction were followed by 
execution in every case. Never did justice assume so hideous 
an aspect. Military tribunals of furious partizans, sat in every 
quarter, and sent thousands to instant death. The infliction of 
torture was unremitting; persons of rank and station were 
executed without trial, or with the barbarous mockery of trial 
which is furnished by drum-head judicature. Men lost all reason, 
all humanity ; the people groaned under the frightful infliction 
of a terrible military tyranny. 

When the rebellion was virtually over, but whilst court-mar- 
tials, and special commissions were still doing their duty, it 
occurred to some of the state prisoners that an useful and 
honorable arrangement might be made with Government, by 
which a stop should be put to the effusion of blood, a general 
amnesty be procured, and the people be restored to the benefits 
and protection of the constitution. These gentlemen, feeling 
that they participated with Government in the guilt of producing 
the insurrection, and affrighted, not so much at their own pos- 
sible fate as at the ghastly spectacle of a bleeding country, 
were anxious, if it could be done, to restore peace, and to 
reconcile the two contending parties. An opportunity soon pre- 
sented itself. The Executive had been well aware of the plans 
of the United Irishmen, and of their intercourse with France. 
They possessed a great mass of information upon the whole 
system of the Union, its members, its projects, and its intrigues, 
and they were anxious to impart the knowledge they possessed 



to the public ; but there were difficulties in their way — their 
information was obtained from foreign and domestic treachery, 
their home agents were vulgar tools, and their names would 
have given but little authority to their statements, and the Go- 
vernment were bound by agreement not to disclose those parties 
connected with France who had betrayed at once the secrets of 
their own Government and of the Irish Union. Speculation 
has been busy as to them ; but it is as vain as useless to seek to 
penetrate the secret of the treachery, by whose active agency, 
the English Minister became acquainted with the negotiations of 
the United Irishmen with foreign powers. It must have been 
deep, and extensive. The Government being thus anxious to 
give all the information they possessed to the world, and being 
at the same time deterred from proclaiming its sources, it became 
an object with them to obtain from the leaders of the Union, 
then in prison, a full disclosure of its history, organization, and 
foreign negotiations ; by which means they would at once possess 
the most accurate information, on the best possible authority, 
and be enabled to make whatever use they pleased of it. Va- 
rious motives operated with Government in their anxiety upon 
this matter. They, no doubt, wished to terrify their dependents 
by a display of the vigorous and 'well-concerted measures which 
had been taken to subvert their authority, and to shake off the 
English yoke ;* and they wished to alarm the English people 
by a detail of the external relations of the Union. Proposals 
were, with these objects, made to the state prisoners in Dublin, 
and were accepted by them. They saw their countrymen daily 
devoted to death, whilst Ireland gained nothing by the sacrifice, 
and they entered at once into a treaty, whose faithful fulfilment 
was to rescue their country from civil and military execution, 
and to restore to the people of Ireland the protection of the civil 
law. The idea of this compact was first started in the middle 
of July. John and Henry Sheares had been executed ; Michael 
William Byrne was on his trial and there was no doubt of its 
issue, Oliver Bond was to be tried next, and the special com- 
mission which was sitting was proceeding surely and rapidly in 
its work. Pending the arrangement of the treaty, on the very 
day on which it was all but completed, and contrary to its spirit, 

* Account of the Compact in Madden, 2 vol. 2 scries, p. 103. 


Byrne was executed. The assent of Government and the sig- 
nature of the state prisoners were, however, finally obtained on 
the 29th of July. " When it was proposed to make a draught 
of the stipulations, Lord Castlereagh laboured to produce a per- 
suasion of its being superfluous, since every thing was so well 
understood, and would be honorably construed. The deputies 
of the prisoners, however, thought it their duty to commit the 
substance, at least, to writing, and drew up a paper which must 
be considered as a memorandum, and not a detail of the agree- 
ment. The following is that paper : — ' That the undersigned 
state prisoners in the three prisons of Newgate, Kilmainham, 
and Bridewell, engage to give every information in their power 
of the whole of the internal transactions of the United Irishmen; 
and that each of the prisoners shall give detailed information of 
every transaction that has passed between the United Irishmen 
and foreign states ; but that the prisoners are not, by naming or 
describing, to implicate any person whatever ; and that they are 
ready to emigrate to such country as shall be agreed upon be- 
tween them and Government, and give security not to return to 
this country without the permission of Government, and not to 
pass into an enemy's country — if, on doing this, they are to be 
freed from prosecution, and also Mr. Bond be permitted to 
take the benefit of this proposal. The state prisoners also 
hope that the benefit of this proposal may be extended to such 
persons in custody or not in custody, as may choose to benefit 
by it.' "* 

By the fulfilment of this compact, on the part of the leaders 
of the United Irishmen, the Government gained their object. 
They were enabled to conceal the real channels of their pre- 
vious information ; and to put forward the state prisoners, to 
vouch for what they wished to make publicly known, and which 
they could thus authenticate. They wished to escape from, or 
to palliate the infamy of their conduct — their house burnings, 
torturings, arbitrary banishments, and licensed murders, by 
proving that the United Irishmen entertained the idea of effect- 
ing a separation from England, a design which the favourers of 
English power at that period would consider as sufficient provo- 
cation for the violation of all principles, and the infliction of all 

* Macnevin's Pieces of Irish History, p. 157. 



horrors.* This they effected to the fullest extent. The leaders 
were examined before the Committees of the Lords and Com- 
mons, and garbled extracts of their evidence, were published by 
Government* The case was made out to the satisfaction of its 
partisans, and a load of obloquy thrown upon the unfortunate 
gentlemen, who, in thus submitting to the searching examination 
of the Committees, and undertaking to transport themselves 
from their country, expected to have been instrumental in restor- 
ing peace, and stopping the effusion of blood. It was not their 
fault that they did not succeed in their design. 

It may be now proper to consider, for a moment, what was the 
object of this treaty, what conditions it contained, and how the two 
contracting parties fulfilled their relative parts. The leaders 
amongst the prisoners have given their statements, and few will be 
inclined to doubt their sincerity or truth. They were men of unim- 
peached personal honor, and, as the subsequent career of several 
of them fully proves, with virtues and genius capable of serving 
and conferring distinction on any country but that which an 
infamous Government would not permit them to live in. None 
but those furious bigots who can see in Emmet, Macnevin and 
Sampson only " unhanged traitors," will doubt the veracity of 
their account of this very important negotiation. 

It is obvious that the idea of ensuring their personal safety 
did not enter into their views. Against many of them, no evi- 
dence of any kind was in the possession of Government. Neil- 
son, who was one of the movers in this business, was assured by 
Mr. Curran, and his other friends, that there was no evidence to 
be adduced against him, which could in any way affect his life.f 
" Those who know him best will readily give him credit, when 
he says, that the failure of the insurrection, and the daily exe- 
cution of his virtuous friends in town and country, martyrs to 
the same cause, had, so far from creating a terror of death, 
actually made life a burthen to him. He further declares, that 
so far as he knows, there was not a prisoner who took part in 
this measure, but was actuated chiefly, if not solely, by conside- 
rations of a nature far from selfish or personal ; by far the 
greater part of them were, and had long been, imprisoned merely 

* Macnevin *s Pieces of Irish History, p. 157. 

f Madden's United Irishmen, 1 vol. 2 series, p. 153. 


on suspicion ; nor was there any idea whatever of bringing them 
to trial, at that or any other time."* Their object was to stop 
the effusion of blood, and when the idea of a treaty was first 
started, it was received more gladly from the hope of saving the 
life of Byrne. That was sacrificed by the treacherous cruelty 
of Government. But yet the prisoners imagined, that much 
good might still be effected, and that mercy might, though late, 
visit their afflicted country, as the price of their disclosures and 
self exile. They saw that the insurrection was quenched in the 
blood of the people, and that whilst four or five counties were 
making head against the whole of the King's forces, no effectual 
attempt was made to assist them through the rest of the country; 
that the valour and courage of the people, were rendered fruit- 
less, from the want of military knowledge and capacity in their 
leaders ; that the arrest of the deputies, and the ablest agents 
of the Union had completely destroyed its power for effecting 
any thing of consequence ; that from the several defeats endured 
at New Ross, Vinegar Hill, and in the North of Ireland, fur- 
ther resistance was useless and ruinous ; that from the gross and 
profligate corruption of juries, and the unconstitutional conduct 
of judges, justice was perverted into a monstrous engine of 
murder ; that Government was already aware of all their internal 
and external transactions ; and finally, their ears were daily 
assailed with the accounts of military and civil executions, and 
their eyes pained, by seeing their friends led out to die upon 
gibbets. To stop this waste of life, to arrest the furious ven- 
geance of Government, they agreed to disclose the history of 
their previous efforts, and to abandon their country, their families, 
and their friends.f 

To impute to them treachery to the cause they had served so 
long, and to the men whom they had led into treason and rebel- 
lion, was a most gross and unfounded imputation, one worthy of 
the Government of that day, but not to be revived nor listened 
to, at this time. The character of men, who, whatever was 
their rashness, and whatever was their guilt, are still revered by 
their fellow-countrymen, is so valuable that it compels me to 
dwell upon the vindication of their motives longer than may be 

* Madden's United Irishmen, I vol. 2 series, p. 153. 

t Macnevin's account of the Compact in Madden's book, 2 vol. 2 series, p. 112. 



thought necessary. Emmet sums them up thus—" We entered 
into this agreement the more readily, because it appeared to us 
that, by it, the public cause lost nothing. We knew, from the 
different examinations of the state prisoners, before the Privy 
Council, and from conversations with Ministers, that Govern- 
ment was already in possession of all the important knowledge, 
which they could obtain from us. Whence they derived their 
information, was not entirely known to us ; but it is now manifest 
that Reynolds, Magin, and Hughes, not to speak of the minor 
informers, had put them in possession of every material fact 
respecting the internal state of the Union; and it was from 
particular circumstances, well known to one of us, and entirely 
believed by the rest, that its external relations had been betrayed 
to the English Cabinet, through the agency of a foreigner, with 
whom we had negotiated. This was even so little disguised, 
that, on the preceding 12th of March, the contents of a memoir 
which had been prepared by one of the undersigned,* at Ham- 
burgh, and transmitted thence to Paris, were minutely detailed to 
him by Mr. Cooke. Nevertheless, those with whom we negotiated, 
seemed extremely anxious for our communications. Their reasons 
for this anxiety may have been many, but two particularly sug- 
gested themselves to our minds — they obviously wished to give 
proof to the enemies of an Irish Republic, and of Irish Indepen- 
dence, of the facts with which they were themselves well acquaint- 
ed, while, at the same time, they concealed from the world 
their real sources of intelligence. Nor do we believe we are 
uncharitable in attributing to them the hope and wish of ren- 
dering unpopular and suspected, men in whom the United 
Irishmen had been accustomed to place almost unbounded con- 

The injurious consequences of Government succeeding in both 
these objects, were merely personal ; and, as they were no more, 
though they were revolting and hateful to the last degree, we 
did not hesitate to devote ourselves, that we might make terms 
for our country ."f Another motive, too, impelled them to their 
decision. They felt anxious to vindicate the cause of the 
United Irishmen, and they conceived that this could be done, by 
a fair and candid development, of the objects of the Union. 

* Dr. Macnevin. f Madden, 2 vol. 2 series, 103. 


These objects centred in the liberation of Ireland. But in that 
evil and angry time, the United Irishmen had been accused of 
every thing that was vile and infamous ; they had been denounced 
in Parliament as a " blasted society " — infidels in religion — a nest 
of selfish traitors. They wished to prove the falsehood of these 
charges ; and they conceived that they could prove this, even in 
the council-chambers and committee-rooms of their enemies, by a 
fair and manly avowal of their opinions and their designs. And 
it is submitted, that their vindication was perfect. The evidence 
they gave is a most valuable record — full of startling truths — and 
full of bold theories, that may not be impossible. They taught 
the Government how this country might be ruled, with advantage 
to itself, and honor to its rulers ; and, furthermore, they taught 
their countrymen how to achieve, and how to use a rational free- 
dom. The Government cannot be said to have gained much by 
the treaty. Misrepresentation, false and garbled extracts of the 
evidence of the prisoners, achieved a miserable and temporary 
triumph ; but truth soon emerged from the mist that was thrown 
around it ; and the historian and the politician can consult, with 
advantage, the singular details given by these able and distin- 
guished men, in the searching examinations to which they were 

Such being the objects of the State prisoners, and of the Go- 
vernment, in entering upon this treaty, let us see how it was ful- 
filled on the part of the former. In the first place, they prepared 
an ample memoir of the foundation and progress of the Union — 
of its original and subsequent organization — and of its internal 
and external policy. This was not acceptable to Government, 
though Mr. Cooke acknowleged it was a fulfilment of the strict 
letter of the agreement. However, he suggested that it might 
be altered, according to the Lord Lieutenant's wish, so that it 
should not be a vindication of the United Irishmen. The Lord 
Lieutenant was not pleased, because it was a defence of the 
Union. How could it be otherwise than a defence ? It reviewed 
the history of the United Irishmen from the beginning, when 
their objects were strictly constitutional, and the conduct of their 
proceedings according to the law, down to that period when the 
aggressions of power upon popular liberty compelled them to 
abandon the safe course of open discussion, for the devious and 
dangerous paths of conspiracy and intrigue. It detailed, the 


several aggressive acts of Government — the proscription of the 
Mends of reform — the final extinction of the Volunteers* — the 
penal laws against meeting by delegates — the Insurrection and 
Indemnity acts, and the other stringent measures which were 
passed with the avowed or latent object of crushing the United 
Irishmen. The memoir dwelt particularly upon the provisions 
of the Insurrection Act, which punished the administering the 
United Irishmen's oath with death, and gave magistrates the 
power of proclaiming counties, and restoring peace to unquiet 
districts by breaking into the cabins between sunrise and sunset, 
seizing the inmates, sending them on board tenders, and trans- 
porting them, or wounding the national honour where it is most 
keenly susceptible, by outraging the delicacy of women. In fine, 
it made a case — so strong and convincing, and indicating the exist- 
ence of a state of things, which would have made submission a 
greater crime than resistance. This might do very well as a 
piece of history, but it was not the kind of document adapted to 
the uses of the castle. The authorities there would gladly have 
proved the naked fact, that there had existed for a long time a 
deep-seated hostility to England amongst the United Irishmen. 
The memoir did this ; but it did something more. It vindicated 
that hostility, in demonstrating the existence of a powerful cause 
for such a sentiment ; it proved the ancient truth, that tyranny, 
cruelty, and oppression will beget the monstrous progeny of evil 
passions, hatred, and furious resistance. And this demonstration 
was not required by Lord Castlereagh or Lord Clare. A change, 
a slight alteration, the muffing of a few truths, the insinua- 
tion of a few falsehoods, would have rendered the memoir a 
document of vast utility. But the state prisoners were men. of 
rough honesty. They promised the truth, and they told it. They 
would make no change, nor introduce the slightest alloy into the 
pure and unvarnished facts. And, therefore, the Government hit 
upon an expedient, by which they could make their own case, 
by which the power of garbling, colouring, and suppressing should 
be in their own power. The ablest men amongst the prisoners, 
Emmet, Macnevin, O'Connor, and Neilson, were summoned before 

* For the brilliant career of this body, the reader may consult the books written 
about that period, which are filled with the most exaggerated praises and eastern 
flattery. To me they appear to have been a collection of men who, with great 
power, effected little, and could not keep what they had gotten. They might have 
had liberty — they took a few privileges ; and were soon dispersed, leaving nothing 
but a name behind them. 


the committees of the Lords and Commons, and were examined 
by the members composing them, on the subject of the Union, its 
views, and its organizations. The questions were ingeniously put, 
and were fully answered. If the Government desired the truth, 
it was told to them — if they sought to learn the means of future 
good government, these were supplied by men, who knew Ireland 
intimately. But that such was not their object, was speedily 
proved. The publication of the Report of the Commons' com- 
mittee followed quickly in the order of time ; and it was a docu- 
ment quite unparalleled in the proverbial falsehood of state 
papers for the utter disingenousness of its texture. Misrepre- 
sentation, false induction, perversion of history, combined to make 
it a diplomatic wonder — wondrous from the utter recklessness of 
its composition. The newspapers in the service of Government 
were filled with garbled extracts from the testimony of the state 
prisoners, untrue statements of their evidence, and, in many 
instances, containing the direct reverse of its import. So far was 
this carried, that — though it was a part of the compact that names 
were not to be disclosed — the Government papers represented 
the prisoners as having given those of their associates in 
treason. This falsehood was not endured in silence, for three 
of the gentlemen managed to obtain means of contradicting it by 
an advertisement, which they published in two of the Dublin 
newspapers, to the following effect :* 

" Having read, in the different newspapers, publications pre- 
tending to be abstracts of the report of the Secret Committee of the 
House of Commons, and of our depositions before the committees 
of the Lords and Commons, we feel ourselves called upon to assure 
the public they are gross, and to us astonishing misrepresenta- 
tions, not only unsupported by but, in many instances, directly 
contradictory to the facts we really stated on those occasions. 
We further assure our friends that in no instance did the name 
of any individual escape from us ; on the contrary, we always 
refused answering such questions as might tend to implicate any 
person whatever, conformably to the agreement entered into by 
the state prisoners with Government. 

" Arthur O'Connor. 

" Thomas Addis Emmet. 

" William Jambs Macnevin." 

* Macnevin's Pieces of Irish History, 161. 


This temperate refutation excited a perfect tempest of furious 
invective in the Irish House of Commons. Mr. M'Naughten, 
and "two virulent barristers, Francis Hutcheson and Cun- 
nyngham Plunket,"* humanely suggested summary execution 
as the fittest measure to be adopted towards the rash asser- 
tions of their own honour— a proposition not much more 
execrable than the one made on the previous 24th March, 
by Lord Farnham, who submitted " to the wisdom of the 
House whether it would not be right and necessary, that 
military executions should have retrospect to the persons who 
were then confined, and that they should be disposed of as 
expeditiously as possible"] The humanity of Lord Castle- 
reagh interposed itself between this brutal suggestion, and the 
prisoners ; and on the former occasion, military execution was not 
done. The prisoners were merely remanded to close confine- 
ment, and the visits of their friends and relatives strictly for- 
bidden. During this confinement, the Government proceeded, in 
its career of blood and calumny. In September, an act passed 
the houses of parliament, professedly to carry into effect the 
conditions of the treaty. That such was not its object must be 
clear from the fact, that so far from permitting the state prisoners 
to emigrate, according to these conditions, twenty of the parties 
who signed the compact, were sent to Scotland, and kept for 
upwards of four years, in close confinement. That the real 
object of this miscalled act of amnesty, was to put upon the 
shameless records of the legislature a statutary falsehood — 
a gross calumny upon the leaders of the United Irishmen, is 
apparent from its preamble. The act referred to is the 38th 
Geo. III. c. 78, which recites — " Whereas, during the wicked 
and unnatural rebellion which hath broken out in this kingdom, 
several persons who had taken up arms against His Majesty, or 
had traitorously and wickedly corresponded with and adhered to 
his enemies, or had been otherwise engaged in fomenting the 
said rebellion, and acting therein, have been apprehended and 

* Pieces of Irish History, 162 Irish Patriotism in those days was a strange 

thing. The eloquent opponent of a Union is found, but a year, before the " virulent " 
advocate for doing military execution on men at least at honest as himself ! 

f Debates in the House of Commons. Commons' Journal, March, 1798. This 
proposal is justified in the Dublin University Magazine, for December, 1843, p. 
690 ; and the classic writer humanely suggests, that the Government, in acceding 
to his proposition, would have but followed the example of Cicero, and would have 
done well in reviving the tragedy of the Tullianum ! 


committed to prison for such their treasons, several of whom 
being conscious of their flagrant and enormous guilt, have expressed 
their contrition for the same, and have most humbly implored his 
Majesty's mercy, and that he would be graciously pleased to order 
all further prosecution against them to stop and surcease, and to 
grant his royal pardon to them, on condition of their being trans- 
ported, frc, to any foreign country, frc." 

Let the reader who feels any interest in the characters of men, 
who suffered, for what they at all events conceived to be, the 
happiness of this country, turn to the memoir which they prepared 
in fulfilment of their arrangement with Government, and which 
it is to be remembered was rejected by the agent of Government, 
because it was a vindication of the United Irishmen, and he will 
certainly find no proof of these statements — no whimpering con- 
trition — no mean demand of pardon.* Again, let the examina- 
tions of the prisoners — even in the appendix of wilful falsehood 
which follows the Report of the Committee of Secrecy — be read, 
and the same bbld honesty, the same probably rash adherence to 
dangerous convictions, will be found to give a direct contradic- 
tion to this preamble. The Government, bad as it was, did not 
ask for any mean submissions ; they were content with falsely 
representing that they had been made. Dr. Macnevin, in reply 
to a question of the Archbishop of Cashel, suggested by pious 
horror at the independent notions of an acknowledged traitor, 
said, " I have not, I own, any idea of sacrificing the interests of 
Ireland to those of any other country ; nor why we should not in 
that, as in every other respect, be as free as the English 
themselves."! This is not the language of recantation. 
The Speaker asked the same person whether the people 
would consider themselves bound hereafter by the oaths of the 
Union ? He was answered thus — " I, who am going to be an 
emigrant from my country, am dispensed from answering that 
question ; yet I acknowledge, that were I to stay, I would think 
myself bound by them."$ Does this speak consciousness of guilt, 
contrition, or abject supplication ? That the prisoners themselves 
were utterly unaware of the pusillanimity imputed, by the 
preamble of the 38th Geo. III., to them, may be inferred from 
the steps they took to refute the calumny, and by the threats 

* Pieces of Irish History, 142. f Ibid, 196. t Ibid, 211 


which were made, if they persisted in publishing their denial. 
Having, by chance, seen a copy of the act in a London newspaper, 
one of the calumniated parties, Samuel Neilson, prepared a letter 
of refutation addressed to the editor, stating that there had 
been no retraction — no expression of sorrow for " unnatural 
rebellion" — no demand for pardon. But that the state prisoners 
had entered into a treaty with Government, by which they 
expected to stop the effusion of blood, and to terminate the 
afflictions of the country. A copy of this letter was sent to Lord 
Castlereagh ; and, as the state prisoners had stipulated for free- 
dom of publication, they did not anticipate any interference on 
the part of the Executive. This was ridiculous confidence, 
though, probably taking into consideration the subsequent con- 
duct of that unrighteous body, it was wise not to have stimulated 
their appetite for oppression. Shortly after Lord Castlereagh 
had received the communication from Neilson, the latter was 
visited by two of the Government agents, Mr. Marsden and the 
indefatigable Cooke, who conveyed to him a message direct from 
the Lord Lieutenant. He was told, that if he published 
that letter, it was the firm determination of the Lord Lieu- 
tenant to abandon the conditions of the compact and to cause 
civil ana 1 military executions to proceed as before J These were 
the men who ruled our country at that time, men capable of 
recording falsehood in their abominable edicts, and of preventing 
its refutation by threatening the sword and the rope ! These 
were the men against whose unholy rule, treason and rebellion 
were " unnatural !" This message waa not from the remorseless 
Camden ; it proceeded from the lips of Lord Cornwallis. It is, 
however, but just to him to remember, that he was surrounded by 
such advisers as Castlereagh ; and that he was aided and assisted 
in the infamy of his conduct by the House of Commons, where 
propositions, equal in remorseless cruelty to his own, had been 
repeatedly and gravely made by men who assumed to be pecu- 
liarly the ' friends of the people/ In the long list of oppres- 
sions inflicted by the Anglo-Irish Government upon its victims, 
there is scarcely one of them, more full of refined cruelty than 
this. The character of men who were dear to the people was 
traduced in a solemn act of Parliament ; they were represented 
as repentant sinners against their king ; as having confessed their 
flagrant and enormous guilt ; and as having implored pardon. 


The truth was no where told that they had consented to abandon 
their country, and to submit to the searching inquisition of two 
parliamentary committees, for the purpose of saving the lives of 
their countrymen. Their motive was grossly misrepresented ; and 
when indignant honour would have repudiated the calumny, it was 
silenced by the threat of resuming the career of decimation, by 
the aid of drumhead judges and military hangmen. That was, 
indeed, a time of horror, full of pregnant warning to future 
Governments, as well as to impatient patriotism ; preaching 
forbearance and mercy to the one, and caution and much 
endurance to the other. The wise humanity of our days will 
not refuse the lesson. 

A Government capable of using this artifice, was capable of 
any wrong. Twenty of the gentlemen who entered into the 
compact, and who fulfilled its conditions with exemplary correct- 
ness, after some interval of confinement in the prisons of Dublin 
— hateful to them as the scenes of the sufferings, and death of 
their friends — were transmitted to Fort St. George, in Scotland, 
where, for four years, they were, in breach of all honour and for- 
getfulness of all treaties, kept closely imprisoned. The humanity 
of the governor, Colonel Stuart, a Scotchman, contended with 
his duty and instructions in rendering their condition at all 
endurable. In this list of exiles — driven from Ireland by its 
factious Government — were Thomas Addis Emmett, William 
James Macnevin, and William Sampson.* After more than four 
years' imprisonment, those gentlemen, as well as the other pri- 
soners, obtained their freedom, and their subsequent fate will be 
found detailed at large in Dr. Madden's very interesting memoirs 
of the United Irishmen, to which I have been so much indebted 
for the facts in the preceding pages. 

It is hoped, that though of necessity, the events growing out 
of the existence of the society of the United Irishmen, have been 
but briefly dealt with in this Introduction, its perusal will enable 
the reader to appreciate more fully the interesting trials which 

* Of these three men, the first became the leading member of the bar of New 
York ; the second, one of the first medical men in that city ; and the third, an 
advocate of great distinction in the honourable profession of which Thomas Addis 
Emmet was the greatest ornament. Is this any comment upon the Government, 
whose shrewdness found in them unsafe citizens of a state, administered by a Clare 
and a Castlereagh ? A late writer, in speaking of the leaders of the rebellion of 
1798, says that they were " almost without exception, shallow, and conceited 
sciolists." University Magazine (December, 1843), p. 685. 


follow. They have been arranged with care ; the best reports 
in all cases have been obtained ; and they are printed in the order 
in which they occurred. Their succession, too, will serve to 
indicate the progress of the assaults made by Government upon 
public liberty — from the attack upon the press in the prosecution 
of Archibald Hamilton Rowan, down to the various trials for 
high treason with which they sought to consummate their 
triumph, over the principles and projects, of the United Irishmen. 
The men with whom this Introduction and these trials are 
conversant, were, no doubt, traitors ; but it is probable that the 
details, both here and there given, may impart a meaning to that 
word, more restricted than that which it enjoys in the comprehen 
give language of a statute, or in the unlimited phraseology of a 
court sycophant, or an Irish loyalist. No man will unconditionally 
defend the rash projects in which they embarked ; but let us not 
be blinded — there is no motive for such meanness now — to the 
unbounded devotion and disinterested zeal with which they sought, 
after their own fashion, to serve their country. And let it be 
always remembered, that if they abandoned the straight and open 
course of the constitution, it was when an arbitrary, a dishonest, 
and sanguinary government had made its ancient ways unsafe and 
perilous to the lovers of civil and religious equality. 



Archibald Hamilton Rowan, the descendant of a distinguished 
Scotch family, which settled in Ireland, in the reign of James the First, 
was celebrated for the leading part he took in the struggles of Irish 
nationality. He was born in London, on the 12th May, 1751 (old 
style). He was connected with the noble family of Abercorn, and 
descended from Sir James Hamilton, who was afterwards created 
Viscount Claneboye, and whose son became Earl of Clanbrassil.* 

His father, Gawin Hamilton, had gone to settle in London in 
1750, where Archibald Hamilton was born. His name of Rowan 
was taken, together with the fortune, of his maternal grandfather, 
who had assumed the care of his education and advancement, and who 
was a man of sturdy independence, in his notions both of politics, and 

The events of Rowan's life, previous to his coming to reside per- 
manently in Ireland, though amusing and strange enough, may be 
briefly noticed in this place. He received a good education, which 
was superintended by Mr. Rowan, his grandfather, until his death, in 
1767. After this event, Archibald Hamilton Rowan was sent to 
Wesminister school, where his proficiency was not very great, though 
he was observed, as a boy, anxious for distinction, as well as for being 
fond of gaiety ; and ready for any frolic, however wild or dangerous. 
His father took a house in the neighbourhood of the school, and young 
Rowan met, in his circle, a society from whose teaching it is not im- 
probable that he derived the peculiar political bias, which influenced 
his future career. Amongst the frequent visitors at his father's house, 
was Dr. Charles Lucas, the celebrated Irish patriot. 

From Westminister, Rowan was removed to Cambridge. Whilst 
a member of this university, his life was gay and dissipated. He had 
a command of money, kept hunters, mixed in what is called the best 

* Both these titles became extinct on the death of Henry, the third Lord 
Claneboye and second Earl of Clanbrassil ; but the former was revived in 1800, 
when it was conferred on Sir James 8. Blackwood (connected by marriage with 
the family), together with a sum of £15,000, as a reward for his vote in favour of 
the Legislative Union. The title of Clanbrassil has been also revived, and is that 
by virtue of which, Lord Roden (another branch of the family) sits in the House 
of Lords. 


society, and took part in some of these extraordinary freaks in which 
the young aristocracy loved to indulge. He carried to Cambridge 
the same wildness which distinguished him at Westminister ; and was 
rusticated for throwing some obnoxious personage into the Cam. The 
Duke of Manchester gave him a commission in the Grenadiers of the 
Huntingdon Militia, and, whilst a Captain in that regiment, he ob- 
tained considerable eclat by swimming in his full regimentals, with a 
fusee slung at his back, from Gossport to Plymouth. His college and 
military life abound in none, but trivial details, like these. 

During his college career, he accepted the post of secretary to Sir 
Charles Montague, who was governor of South Carolina. With him 
he sailed to Charleston, where, however, he remained only three 
months. In his autobiography, he gives us no reason for his return, 
which he notices thus : — 

" Having spent nearly three months at Charleston, I got a passage 
from Captain Hayward to England, on board the Swallow ; taking 
with me a racoon, an oppossum and a young bear. After a very 
rough passage, I landed at Portsmouth — my racoon dead, my bear 
washed overboard, and my opossum lost in the cable tier — and I re- 
turned to Cambridge." 

The character of Rowan was given in the World newspaper by 
Topham Beauclere, who was a contemporary of his at Cambridge, and 
who published a series of characters of the different young men about 
London who had been educated at Westminister and Eton. The fol- 
lowing extracts will serve to show the estimate, in which he was held 
by his fashionable intimates : — 

" With more than boyish aptitudes and abilities, he should not have 
been lost amongst boys. His incessant intrepidity, his restless curi- 
osity, his undertaking spirit, all indicated early maturity — all should 
have led to pursuits, if not better, at least of more spirit and moment, 
than the mere mechanism of the dead languages. * * 

" Besides, Hamilton was to be found in every daring oddity. Lords 
Burlington and Kent, in all their rage for pediments, were nothing to 
him in a rage for pediments. For often has the morning caught him 
scaling the high pediments of the school door, and, at the peril of his life, 
clambering down, opening the door within, before the boy who kept 
the gate came with the key.* His evenings set upon no less perils ; 
in pranks with gunpowder, in leaping from unusual heights into 
the Thames! * * * * 

" Had he been sent to Woolwich, he might have come out, if not a 

* This is wretched stuff; but it shows the description of society and the pursuits 
of the future politician, who was foremost in teaching, and in suffering for, the 
bold anil noble doctrines of '* Universal Emancipation. ' — Ed. 


rival of the Duke of Richmond, at least a first-rate engineer. In 
economic arts and improvements, nothing less than national, he might 
have been the Duke of Bridgewater of Ireland. Had the sea been 
his profession, Lord Mulgrave might have been less alone in the rare 
union of science and enterprize. * * * • 

" To Cambridge, therefore, he went ; where, having pursued his 
studies, as it is called, in a ratio inverse and descending, he might have 
gone on from bad to worse, and so, as many do, putting a grave face 
upon it, he might have had his degree. But his animal spirits and 
love of bustle could not go off thus undistinguished ; and so, after coolly 
attempting to throw a tutor into the Cam — after shaking all Cambridge 
from its propriety, by a night's frolic, in which he climbed the sign- 
posts and changed the principal signs, he was rusticated until the good 
humour of the University returning, he was readmitted and enabled 
to satisfy his grandfather's will.* Through the intercourse of private 
life, he is very amiable. The same suavity of speech, courteous atten- 
tions, and general good nature he had when a boy, are continued and 
improved. Good qualities the more to be prized as the less probable 
from his bold and eager temper, from the turbulence of his wishes and 
the hurry of his pursuits." 

If all this affected description be true, and there is no reason to 
doubt it, as we find it copied, without any disclaimer in Rowan's Au- 
tobiography, it presents to us the image of a gay young man, leading 
fashion in fashion's silliest shapes, and fitter to be the founder of the 
modern school of aristocratic rioters, than to be the grave and ener- 
getic reformer of political grievances, and the martyr of strong and 
generous convictions ; but still with good qualities that promised a 
release, sooner or later, from the giddiness of his youthful pursuits. 
He continued, however, for some years, the career which his rank, 
fortune and disposition opened to him ; and having visited France 
during the period of the American war, he met with George Robert 
Fitzgerald, and enjoyed the unenviable honour of acting as his friend 
in a duel which he fought with Major Baggs, in which both principals 
behaved badly, and both were severely wounded. The French 
authorities made a great deal of noise about the matter, but in the end 
did nothing, and Mr. Rowan escaped the consequences of his folly. 
Shortly after this last feat, he was appointed by the Marquis de 
Pombal, then minister in Portugal, to a lieutenant-colonelcy in the 
Portuguese service, but the Marquis having been disgraced, Mr. Rowan 
never served, and spent the next few years in the gratification of a 
roving habit of mind — visited Tangiers, and became intimate with its 

* Mr. Rowan had directed him to graduate in Cambridge. 


governor — went to Paris and amused himself to the top of his bent ; 
in fact, went everywhere, saw everything, and did a great many 
eccentricities, which he details with amusing simplicity in his Auto- 
biography. The period, however, was come, when, if he did not 
altogether throw aside the wild habit of his youth, the first step was 
taken, and the foundation was laid of a future course of useful exertion 
and honourable suffering. Speaking of this period, he says : — 

" When I mentioned my mother's family at Pinnel, I alluded to a 
young Irish lady, then a visitor with her. I should explain how 
Miss Dawson had become almost an inmate in her family — my mo- 
ther had the strongest friendship for her father, Walter Dawson, 
Esq., of Lisanisk, near Carrickmacross ; this gentleman had deter- 
mined to give a London education to Sarah Anne, his only daughter, 
who was possessed of great personal beauty and innate elegance of 
manner ; and, at the age of thirteen, he brought her over from Ire- 
land, and placed her at one of the most celebrated schools. During 
the vacation she resided with my mother, who thus became extremely 
attached to her ; and when, at the age of sixteen, she left school, and 
had not yet returned to her parents ; my sister's absence made her 
affection and society more than ever necessary to my mother. At my 
mother's earnest entreaty, Miss Dawson consented to accompany her 
to France. I saw in her so much good sense and propriety, in many 
different and embarrassing situations, that I determined on offering 
her my hand, and wrote to her father in Ireland for his permission, 
to which he consented, and in 1781, we were married by the Dutch 
Ambassador's chaplain in Paris, and for the purpose of registry we 
set out immediately for London where we were married a second 
time, in St. James's parish church, from my mother's house in Great 

He returned to Paris, and resided with his mother in a house 
which she had taken from Lord Southwell, where his eldest son, 
Gawin Hamilton, was born. He remained for two years in France 
after his marriage, and after the expiration of that period came to 
reside in Ireland. He purchased Rathcoffey, in the county of Kil- 
dare, in 1784. Nor did his active mind remain long unemployed, 
though its activity found occupation altogether different from scaling 
pediments, fighting duels, or swimming tutors. Before he was long 
in Ireland he strenuously took up the case of Mary Neale, a young 
girl of fourteen years of age, who had been grossly abused in the 
house of a Mrs. Lewellyn, and whose abuser was one in high station. 
The woman was prosecuted and sentenced to death, and one Edge- 
worth, who had induced a girl to swear a robbery against Neale, his 
wife, and the injured child, was also tried and sentenced to a year's 


imprisonment and the pillory. These wretches were fit objects for 
the mercy of the Government, and received a pardon, to the amaze- 
ment and indignation of the public, who felt the iniquity of the 
interference more keenly as it was supposed that the infamous Lord 
Carhampton, (who was suspected of being a principal in the trans- 
action), had influenced Lord Westmorland to this abuse of mercy.* 
This was resisted by Mr. Rowan, and his opposition to this extension 
of pardon to such atrocious criminals, together with his active exer- 
tions in bringing them to justice, earned for him a considerable share 
of popular affection, and general esteem. Sir Jonah Barrington, in 
his Personal Sketches, gives a ludicrous account of the excess to 
which Mr. Rowan carried his enthusiam on the part of Mary Neale ; but 
Sir Jonah's statements are rather more valuable for their wit, than 
their truth. One passage is worth preserving, as a description of Mr. 
Rowan, done in the broad style of caricature for which Barrington is 
celebrated — " A man who might serve as a model for Hercules ; his 
gigantic limbs conveying the idea of almost supernatural strength ; 
his shoulders, arms, and broad chest were the very emblems of mus- 
cular energy; and his flat, rough countenance, overshadowed by 
enormous dark eyebrows, and deeply furrowed by strong lines of 
vigor and fortitude, completed one of the finest, yet most formidable 
figures I ever beheld." 

Mr. Rowan entered the ranks of the Volunteers, as a private, in 
his father's Company, at Killyleagh, and attended the last review of 
that body which took place in the plain of the Falls near Belfast, on 
the 12th and 13th of July, 1784, and was appointed by the line to 
present an address, (which he had drawn up himself,) to Lord Char- 
lemont, " from a body of armed citizens determined to continue that 
association." The Earl of Charlemont — always elegant, and always 
weak, a hero-bigot — declined to receive the address ; but said that 
they would shortly meet in their civil capacity and pass an address to 
Parliament for a reform of abuses. Rowan made a characteristic 
reply, " that citizens with Brown Bess on their shoulders were more 
likely to be attended to."f In May, 1786, he was elected to com- 
mand the Killyleagh Volunteers. In every political movement, and 

• The following Hnes were written at the time : — 


Since Justice is now but a pageant of state, 
Remove me, I pray ^ou, from this Castle gate, 
Since the rape of an infant, and blackest of crimes, 
Are objects of mercy in these blessed times 
On the front of their prison, or hell let me dwell in, 
For a pardon is granted to Madam Lewellyn. 

f Autobiography of A. H. Rowan, 1 17. 


every military display of the national army, he took an active part. 
It suited the character of his mind, and the tone of his politics. 
Brave and impetuous, an ardent lover of liberty ; he delighted in the 
display of armed citizens, by whose courage and constancy he vainly 
hoped that she might be boldly attained, and nobly preserved. In 
1790, he became a member of the Northern Whig Club, formed 
under the sanction of Lord Charlemont, and mainly by the exertions 
of Dr. Halliday, a man of great wit and general attainments ; and 
at a later period he joined the Society of United Irishmen. He 
entered warmly into their views, made the acquaintance of the lead- 
ing men of that party, and was soon himself one of the most popular 
persons in the Union. His connection with them led to the circum- 
stances disclosed in the following memorable trial — memorable for 
being amongst the first attacks of Government upon the society, and 
memorable too for the splendid ability with which the doctrines of 
universal freedom were defended by John Philpot Curran — a name 
never to be mentioned in Ireland, but with pride and affection. The 
libel for which Mr. Rowan was prosecuted will be found set out in 
the ex officio information filed by the Attorney-General. It was a 
paper addressed by the United Irishmen to the Volunteers, and was 
circulated at a meeting of the Dublin Volunteers, held in Cope-street, 
at the house of a fencing master. It is unnecessary to give any 
detail of the circumstances, which appear in full in the testimony of 
the witnesses for the crown. Mr. Rowan was inclined to employ 
none but barristers who were members of the Union, to defend him ; 
but Messrs. Emmet and Butler, conceiving themselves too junior for 
the conduct of so grave ,a case, declined, and at the special instance 
of Mrs. Rowan, Curran was retained on this understanding, (to which 
he alludes in his speech) that he should employ his talents more in 
defence of the paper than on any minor subject.* The trial came 
off on the 29th January, 1794, and Mr. Rowan was found guilty. A 
motion for a new trial having been unsuccessfully made, he was 
called up, and Mr. Justice Boyd pronounced the sentence of 
the Court of King's Bench, that Mr. Rowan should pay a fine of 
£600, and be imprisoned for two years, and that he should find secu- 
rity for good behaviour for seven years, himself in the sum of two 
thousand pounds, and two others in one thousand each. Mr. Rowan 
was committed to Newgate, and his situation was rendered as agree- 
able as it could well be made, under the circumstances. His convic- 
tion having been calculated upon, it is told by the editor of his Au- 
tobiography, that some respectable adherents of Government antici- 

* Autobiography of A. H. Rowan, 184. 


pated, and sought to realize the anticipation by their influence, that 
he would be exposed to* the degrading punishment of the pillory ; on 
hearing which, Kirwan, the philosopher and chemist, who had the 
enire of the Castle, went to the secretary and asked if it were pos- 
sible that such a punishment could have been contemplated?' "What! 
shew such a vindictive spirit as to make the pillory a punishment for 
a political offence ! Shame ! The pillory is a punishment for dis- 
graceful crimes. Rebellion may be a crime, but not a disgrace ; nay 
more, if successful it becomes a virtue. Should you put Rowan into 
the pillory, you would revolt the entire order of gentlemen in Europe. 
I know it is improper to hold out a threat to Government; but let 
me assure you the people of Dublin will not allow this ; and weak as 
I am, I will draw my sword and head a mob, and break your pillory 
to atoms; and let the blood which may be shed be charged to the 
vindictive spirit of those who proposed so infamous a proceeding." 
The secretary assured him that though certain persons had hinted 
at such a punishment, it was not intended. It may not be difficult 
to divine that the same parties who prompted the extension of mercy 
to a pander and reprobate, would instigate the disgraceful punishment 
of a gentleman like Mr. Rowan. 

Whilst Mr. Rowan was in Newgate, Mr. Jackson arrived from 
France on his mission of rebellion, and unfortunately for Mr. Rowan 
obtained an introduction to his prison. It was a strange place to 
contemplate a revolution, but Mr. Rowan was sanguine, and probably 
was excited by his own condition, as well as by his political bias, to 
lend his attention to the temptations held out by Mr. Jackson. He 
involved himself with that unfortunate person so much, that he was 
obliged to consult his safety by flight, which he effected by bribing 
his under jailer, to permit him to leave the prison, and to visit his 
house for the alleged transaction of some legal business ; whilst there 
he got down by a back window, and took refuge with Mr. Sweetman, 
a friend of his, who resided at Baldoyle, in the neighbourhood of 
Dublin, whence he escaped in a small open boat to France, passing 
through the English fleet in a dense fog. Mrs. Rowan, in a letter 
subsequently written to her husband, somewhat unreasonably charges 
Wolfe Tone, with having seduced Mr. Rowan into the treasonable 
correspondence with Jackson. There is no evidence of this fact in 
Rowan's own account of the transaction ; the contrary would rather 
appear to have been the true state of the case, and if there was any 
seduction at all it might as well have proceeded from Mr. Rowan. 
" It was also proposed that some well-informed and trusty person 
should immediately proceed to France, to arrange the plan of pro- 



ceeding. Our eyes were immediately turned to Mr. Tone, &c"* 
Mr. Rowan's adventures in France were varied, and occasionally 
dangerous — at one time the companion of galley slaves, and suspected 
of being an English spy — at another, living at the expense of the 
nation — he saw some of the strangest scenes of the revolution, being 
a resident in that country at the time of the execution of Robespierre 
and the Terrorists. He did not remain many months in France, and 
after considerable difficulties, arrived in Philadelphia, amongst the 
first of the United Irishmen who sought and received the hospitality 
and protection of America. 

He remained for five years in America, separated from his wife 
and children, discontented and speculating. He was^a farmer, and a 
calico manufacturer, and succeeded in neither pursuit. Essentially 
aristocratic, he disliked the manners of the people, though he made 
some valuable friends amongst them, and we accordingly find his 
letters filled with constant expressions of discontent, if not despair. 
By considerable influence he was permitted to return to Europe, and 
had the happiness of a reunion with his faithful and noble-minded 
wife, with whom, and with his family, he settled at Altona, where he 
remained from 1800 to 1803. 

Mr. Rowan was, after some time, admitted to the full enjoyment 
of the King's pardon, and returned to settle finally in Ireland, in 
1806, and on the death of his father took up his residence "in Eolly- 
leagh Castle, his patrimonial estate, in the county of Down. From 
this period, his career was one of easy domestic enjoyment. He 
spent his large fortune in doing good to a grateful tenantry — 
reducing to practice the doctrines he had taught and suffered for, and 
living to see the triumph of the political opinions for which he had 
been driven from his country, and for which his friends had sacri- 
ficed their lives. He made no compromise with power, nor proved 
his gratitude by apostasy. Consistently the friend of his Catholic 
countrymen, he became a member of the Association, where his 
name was received with the most grateful enthusiasm. Attacked in 
Parliament by Mr. Peel and Mr. Dawson as an " attainted traitor," 
he had the spirit, in his 74th year, to seek for reparation at the hands 
of the latter gentleman, and the good fortune to obtain a disclaimer 
of intentional offence.* 

He died on the 1st November, 1834, in his 84th year, his attached 
wife having preceded him to the grave only a few months before. 
" He had," says the Editor of his Autobiography, " a full and com- 
manding person, in which agility, strength, and grace were combined. 
His features were expressive and strongly marked — in his younger 

* Autobiography of A. H. Rowan, 211. 



days he was universally regarded as handsome, and so attractive of 
admiration that the eyes of all were turned upon him whenever he 
came into public ; a circumstance which must have greatly tended to 
foster his love of popularity and stimulate him to the achievement of 
those feats for which he became so distinguished in his younger days. 
In Rowan's character were blended many of the best virtues, with a 
due share of human imperfections. The great tendency of his 
mental constitution was a love of popularity — nimium gaudens popu~ 
laribus auri* — and this fostered that taste for politics which had 
been early implanted in his mind, and which " grew with his growth, 
and strengthened with his strength/' In private life, he was social 
and domestic, an early riser, temperate in his habits, and when not 
provoked to anger, bland, courteous, amiable, and capable of winning 
and retaining the most devoted friendship, as he experienced in no 
ordinary degree in many trying circumstances. As a husband he 
was constant, fond, and studious of meriting the esteem of his wife, 
by whose judgment he often suffered himself to be directed, and of 
whose matronly virtues he always expressed the highest appreciation. 
No father could be more affectionate, none more anxious for the best 
interests of bis children."! 

Such was the first victim of distinction selected by the Anglo-Irish 
Government, as a sacrifice to the policy with which this country was 
ruled — as a sacrifice to perpetuate a system which has since been 
destroyed by the hands of British statesmen themselves — but one whose 
evil results are yet felt in the distracted state of Ireland, and in the 
disunion, poverty, and crimes of her children. 

• Autobiography, 414. 1 Autobiography, 456. 







Op Trinity Term in the thirty third year of the reign of our sove- 
reign Lord George the Third, now King of Great Britain, and 
soforth, and in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred 
and ninety-three. 
County of the City of \ Be it remembered that the Right Honour- 
Dvblifiy to wit. J able Arthur Wolfe, Attorney General of our 
present Sovereign Lord the King, who for our said Lord the King pro- 
secutes in his behalf, in his proper person comes into the Court of our 
said Lord the King, before the King himself, at the city of Dublin, in 
the county of the said city, on the eighth day of June in this same 
term, and for our said Lord the King gives the court here to understand 
and be informed, that Archibald Hamilton Rowan, of the city of 
Dublin, Esq., being a person of a wicked and turbulent disposition, 
and maliciously designing and intending to excite and diffuse amongst 
the subjects of this realm of Ireland, discontents, jealousies, and 
suspisions of our said Lord the King and his government, and disaffec- 
tion and disloyalty to the person and government of our said Lord 
the Eing, and to raise very dangerous seditions and tumults within this 
aingdom of Ireland ; and to draw the government of this kingdom into 
great scandal, infamy, and disgrace, and to incite the subjects of our 
Lord the King to attempt, by force and violence, and with arms, to 
make alterations in the government, state, and constitution of this 
kingdom, and to incite his Majesty's said subjects to tumult and anar- 
chy, and to overturn the established constitution of this kingdom, and 
to overawe and intimidate the legislature of this kingdom, by an 
armed force, on the sixteenth day of December, in the thirty-third 
y«ar of the reign of our said present Sovereign Lord George the 
TfcH by the grace of God of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, 


King, defender of the faith, and soforth, with force and arms, at Dublin, 
aforesaid, to wit, in the parish and ward of St. Michael the Arch- 
angel, and in the county of the said city, wickedly, maliciously, and 
seditiously, did publish, and cause and procure to be published, a 
certain false, wicked, malicious, scandalous, and seditious libel, of and 
concerning the government, state, and constitution of this kingdom, 
according to the tenor and effect following, that is to say, — " The 
Society of United Irishmen at Dublin, to the Volunteers of Ireland. 
William Drennan, chairman, Archibald Hamilton Rowan, secretary. 
Citizen soldiers, you first took up arms to protect your country from 
foreign enemies and from domestic disturbance ; for the same purposes 
it now becomes necessary that you should resume them ; and a pro- 
clamation has been issued in England for embodying the militia, and 
a proclamation has been issued by the Lord Lieutenant and Council 
in Ireland, [meaning a proclamation which issued under the great seal 
of the kingdom of Ireland, the eighth day of December, one thousand 
seven hundred and ninety-two,] for repressing all seditious associa- 
tions ; in consequence of both these proclamations it is reasonable to 
apprehend danger from abroad and danger at home, for whence but 
from apprehended danger are these menacing preparations for war 
drawn through the streets of this capital [meaning the city of Dublin] 
or whence if not to create that internal commotion which was not 
found, to shake that credit which was not affected, to blast that Volun- 
teer honour which was hitherto inviolate, are those terrible sugges- 
tions and rumours and whispers that meet us at every corner, and agi- 
tate at least our old men, our women, and children ; whatever be the 
motive, or from whatever quarter it arises, alarm has arisen ; and you 
Volunteers of Ireland are therefore summoned to arms at the instance 
of government, as well as by the responsibility attached to your 
character, and the permanent obligations of your institution. We 
will not at this day condescend to quote authorities for the right 
of having and of using arms, but we will cry aloud, even amidst the 
storm raised by the witchcraft of a proclamation, that to your forma- 
tion was owing the peace and protection of this island, to your 
relaxation has been owing its relapse into impotence and insignificance, 
to your renovation must be owing its future freedom and its present 
tranquillity ; you are therefore summoned to arms, in order to preserve 
your country in that guarded quiet which may secure it from 
external hostility, and to maintain that internal regimen throughout 
the land, which, superseding a notorious police or a suspected militia, 
may preserve the blessings of peace by a vigilant preparation for war. 
Citizen soldiers, to arms, take up the shield of freedom and the pledges 
of peace — peace, the motive and end of your virtuous institution — war, 
an occasional duty, ought never to be made an occupation ; every man 
should become a soldier in the defence of his rights ; no man ought 
to continue a soldier for offending the rights of others ; the sacrifice of 
life in the service of our country is a duty much too honourable to be 
intrusted to mercenaries, and at this time, when your country has, by 
public authority, been declared in danger, we conjure you by your 
interest, your duty, and your glory, to stand to your arms, and in spite 
of a police, in spite of a fencible militia, in virtue of two proclamations, 
to maintain good order in your vicinage, and tranquillity in Ireland. 


It is only by the military array of men in whom they confide, whom 
they have been accustomed to revere as the guardians of domestic 
peace, the protectors of their liberties and their lives, that the present 
agitation of the people can be stilled, that tumult and licentiousness 
can be repressed, obedience secured to existing law, and a calm 
confidence diffused through the public mind in the speedy resurrection 
of a free constitution, [meaning that the people of Ireland had not at 
the time of the publishing aforesaid a free constitution] of liberty and 
of equality, words which we use for an opportunity of repelling 
calumny, and of saying, that by liberty we never understood unlimited 
freedom, nor by equality the levelling of property, or the destruction 
of subordination ; this is a calumny invented by that faction, or that 
gang, which misrepresents the King to the people, and the people to the 
King, traduces one half of the nation to cajole the other, and by keeping 
up distrust and division, wishes to continue the proud arbitrators of the 
fortune and fate of Ireland ; liberty is the exercise of all our right*, 
natural and political, secured to us and our posterity by a real repre- 
sentation of the people ; and equality is the extension of the constituent 

! to the fullest dimensions of the constitution, of the elective franchise 

to the whole body of the people, to the end that government, which is 
collective power, may be guided by collective will, and that legislation 
may originate from public reason, keep pace with public improvement, 
and terminate in public happiness. If our constitution be imperfect, 
nothing but a reform in representation will rectify its abuses ; if it be 
perfect, nothing but the same reform will perpetuate its blessings. 
We now address you as citizens, for to be citizens you became soldiers, 
nor can we help wishing that all soldiers partaking the passions and 
interest of the people would remember, that they were once citizens, 
that seduction made them soldiers, but nature made them men. We 
address you without any authority save that of reason, and if we 
obtain the coincidence of public opinion, it is neither by force nor 

| stratagem, for we have no power to terrify, no artifice to cajole, no 

j fund to seduce ; here we sit without mace or beadle, neither a mystery 

nor a craft, nor a corporation; in four words lies all our power — 
universal emancipation and representative legislature — yet we are 
confident that on the pivot of this principle, a convention, still less a 
society, still less a single man, will be able first to move and then to 
raise the world ; we thereforerwish for Catholic emancipation without 

1 any modification, but still we consider this necessary enfranchisement 

as merely the portal to the temple of national freedom ; wide as this 
entrance is, wide enough to admit three millions, it is narrow when 
compared to the capacity and comprehension of our beloved principle, 
which takes in every individual of the Irish nation, casts an equal eye 
over the whole island, embraces all that think, and feels for all that 
suffer; the Catholic cause is subordinate to our cause, and included 
in it ; for, as United Irishmen, we adhere to no sect, but to society — 
to no cause, but Christianity — to no party, but the whole people. In 
the sincerity of our souls do we desire Catholic emancipation : but 
were it obtained to-morrow, to-morrow would we go on as we do 
to-day, in the pursuit of that reform, which would still be wanting 

! to ratify their liberties as well as our own. For both these purposes 

it appears necessary that provincial conventions should assemble pre- 


paratory to the convention of the Protestant people ; the delegates of 
the Catholic body are not justified in communicating with individuals 
or even bodies of inferior authority, and therefore an assembly of a 
similar nature and organisation is necessary to establish an intercourse 
of sentiments, an uniformity of conduct, an united cause and an united 
nation ; if a convention on the one part does not soon follow, and is 
not soon connected with that on the other, the common cause will split 
into the partial interest, the people will relapse into inattention and 
inertness, the union of affection and exertion will dissolve, and too pro- 
bably some local insurrections, instigated by the malignity of our 
common enemy, may commit the character and risk the tranquillity of 
the island, which can be obviated only by the influence of an assembly 
arising from, assimilated with the people, and whose spirit may be, 
as it were, knit with the soul of the nation. Unless the sense of the 
Protestant people be on their part as fairly collected and as judi- 
ciously directed, unless individual exertion consolidates into collective 
strength, unless the parts unite into one mass ; we may perhaps serve 
some person or some party for a little, but the public not at all ; the 
nation is neither insolent, nor rebellious, nor seditious; while it 
knows its rights, it is unwilling to manifest its powers ; it would rather 
supplicate administration to anticipate revolution by well-timed reform, 
and to save their country in mercy to themselves. The fifteenth 
of February approaches, a day ever memorable in the annals of this 
country as the birth-day of new Ireland; let parochial meetings be held 
as soon as possible, let each parish return delegates, let the sense of Ulster 
be again declared from Dungannon, on a day auspicious to union, peace 
and freedom, and the spirit of the North will again become the spirit of 
the nation. The civil assembly ought to claim the attendance of the 
military associations, and we have addressed you, citizen soldiers, on 
this subject from the belief, that your body uniting conviction with 
zeal, and zeal with activity, may have much influence over your 
countrymen, your relations, and friends. We offer only a general 
outline to the public, and meaning to address Ireland, presume not at 
present to fill up the plan, or pre-occupy the mode of its execution. 
We have thought it our duty to speak. Answer us by actions ; you 
have taken time for consideration ; fourteen long years are elapsed 
since the rise of your associations ; and in 1782 did you imagine that 
in 1792 this nation would still remain unrepresented? How many 
nations, in this interval, have gotten the start of Ireland ? How many 
of your countrymen have sunk into the grave ?" In contempt of our 
said Lord the King, in open violation of the laws of this kingdom, 
to the evil and pernicious example of all others in the like case 
offending, and against the peace of our said Lord the King, his crown 
and dignity. WHEREUPON the said Attorney General of our 
said Lord the King, who for our said Lord the King in this behalf 
prosecutes, prays the consideration of the court here in the premises, 
and due process of law maybe awarded against him the said Archibald 
Hamilton Rowan in this behalf, to make him answer to our said Lord 
the King touching and concerning the premises aforesaid. 


Received the 8th of June 1793. 



To this information Mr. Rowan appeared, by Matthew Dowling, 
gent, his attorney, and pleaded the general issue — Not Guilty— and 
the court having appointed Wednesday the 29th day of January, 
1794, for the trial of the said issue, the undernamed persons were 
sworn upon the jury : 

Sir F. Hutchinson, Bart. John Read, 

Fredekick Trench, Esq. Robebt Lea, 

William Duke Moore, Richard Fox, 

Humphry Minchin, Christopher Harbison, 

Richard Manders, George Ferrin, 

George Palmer, Thomas Sherrard. 

Upon calling over the jury, John Read was objected to, as holding 
a place under the crown,* but the Attorney General insisting upon the 
illegality of the objection, and observing that it went against all that 
was honourable and respectable in the land, it was overruled by the 
court. Richard Fox, when called to the book, was interrogated 
whether he had ever given an opinion upon the subject then to be 
tried, to which he answered, that he did not know what the subject 
of the trial was. The same question was put to Thomas Sherrard, 
who returned a similar answer. 

Joshua Dixon, who had been sworn upon the jury, without any 
objection, here stated, that he had given an opinion upon the subject, 
upon which Mr. Attorney General consented that he should be with- 
drawn, but protested against the right of the defendant's counsel to 
examine the jurors as they had done. If they had any objection, 
they ought to make their challenge, and support it by evidence. 

The counsel for the defendant answered, that they would not 
acquiesce in the consent of the Attorney General to withdraw the 
juror, if their examination was to be objected to, and intimated that 
the juror ought to be withdrawn upon the desire of the Attorney 
General, without any consent whatever being entered into. 

Hereupon the Attorney General desired that the juror might be 

Counsel for the Prosecution. Counsel for the Defendant. 

Mr. Attorney General, Mr. Curran, 

Prime Serjeant, Mr. Recorder, 

Solicitor General, Mr. Fletcher. 

Mr. Frankland, 

Mr. Ruxton, 

Agent — Mr. Kemmis. Agent— Mr. Dowling. 

Mr. Ruxton opened the pleadings. 

Mr. Attorney General — My Lord and Gentlemen of the Jury, 
In this case, between the King and Archibald Hamilton Rowan, 
Esq., it is my duty to prosecute on behalf of the crown. The traverser 
in this case, gentlemen, stands accused upon an information filed 
ex officio, by the King's Attorney General, for publishing a seditious 
libeL It is my duty to lay the facts of this case before you — it will 
be the duty of another of his majesty's servants to observe upon 
the evidence. I shall state the nature of the charge and the questions 

* Co. Litt. 156 a; 2 Hale. His. PL c. 271 ; Hawkins Pleas of the Crown, ch. 
43, sections 32, 33. 


you are to try ; I will then elate such circumstances as are necessary 
to be taken into your consideration, for the purpose of understanding 
and expounding that paper which the information charges to be 
a malicious, and seditious libel. The information charges, that 
Archibald Hamilton Rowan, maliciously designing and intending to 
excite and diffuse amongst the subjects of this realm, discontents, dis- 
affection and disloyalty to the king and government, and to raise very 
dangerous seditions and tumults, and to draw the government into 
scandal, infamy and disgrace, and to incite the subjects to attempt, 
by force and with arms, to make alterations in the government, and 
to excite the subjects to anarchy, to overturn the constitution and 
overawe the legislature of the kingdom, did publish the libel set forth 
in the information. In this case, therefore, it will be for you, gen- 
tlemen, upon the evidence which shall be laid before you, to deter- 
mine, whether the traverser has been the publisher of that paper or 
not. I shall, in the course of what I am to offer to the court and to 
you, read the very libel itself, and make such observations as occur to 
me to be proper in the present state of the business. Previous, how- 
ever, to my doing so, I will take the liberty, gentlemen, of stating to 
you some facts and circumstances that appear to me deserving of 
attention in the investigation of the matter before you ; and in doing 
so, I shall carefully avoid mentioning many facts and circumstances 
which those disgraceful times have furnished, that might lead your 
verdict one way or the other. I shall not attempt to excite your 
passions. I am happy at length that this case has come before an 
impartial jury. It has long been the desire of every good man that 
this matter should come to trial before that constitutional tribunal 
who stand arbiters in this case, to protect the accused against the 
power of the crown ; not resembling any of those prosecutions which 
the turbulence of former times have excited, you are assembled with 
that coolness which the solemnity of the occasion requires, to deter- 
mine whether Mr. Rowan be guilty, criminally, of the offence charged 
against him. Take the libel into your consideration, and determine, 
as the law now allows you to do, whether it be a libellous publication, 
tending to excite sedition, to overawe the government ; or tending to 
produce any of the effects imputed to it. I shall now proceed to state 
a few facts which I said it was my duty to do. I shall call your 
attention to the history of the times about which this libel was pub- 
lished : — No man, let his situation be what it may, can be too cau- 
tious in uttering what ought not to be said, which might influence 
your judgment upon your oaths ; and in that office which I hold, 
which is the office of the people, as well as of the crown, it is more 
than a common duty to take care, not to step beyond that line which 
leads to common justice. I am warranted by the authority of a court 
of justice, by the proceedings of the King's Bench in England ; by 
the opinion of a Judge of as much spirit and independence as any 
man, I allude to the case of the printer of the Morning Chronicle, 
in which Lord Kenyon informs the jury, that it is necessary, in cases 
of this kind, to attend to the circumstances and history of the times 
in which the libel was published.* They tend to explain the motives 

• Howell. St. Trials, vol. 22, p. 1017. 


which induced the publication, and the meaning of the libel itself. 
He says it is impossible for the court, or a jury, to shut their ears 
against the history of the times. Besides that common principle, I 
am the more justifiable in what I shall state, because the libel charged 
comes from that body of men, who have constituted themselves by the 
name of u The Society of United Irishmen in Dublin." From the 
time of the restoration of our constitution — from the year 1784 to 
the year 1792 — this country advanced in prosperity, with a regular 
progress and gradation. The agriculture, commerce and police im- 
proved ; the civilization of the country proceeded uniformly from 
year to year ; the commonalty began to enjoy blessings they had been 
strangers to— ships crowded in our harbours — commerce occupied 
our ports — culture in our fields, and peace and happiness every where 
prevailed. The French revolution took place, when there were found 
many men, who from situation, from circumstances, from ambition, 
were desirous of commotion. Clubs were formed in the metropolis 
with the avowed intention of improving the constitution, for they 
must assume some pretext, but with a view, I fear, under colour of 
that, to overturn it. They subsisted here in this town under different 
names, till at length in 1791, they formed themselves into a club, 
called the Society of United Irishmen, consisting at first of a small 
number, composed of various classes of men, certainly some of them 
of the learned professions ; — some of the lowest members in the com- 
munity. In 1791 they continued to pour upon the public daily 
publications, setting forth the distresses of the people, teaching them 
to be discontented with their situation and the government of the 
country. Things thus proceeded, down to the latter end of the year 
1792. In the latter end of autumn, 1792, the allied armies retired 
from the kingdom of France : the convention of that kingdom began 
to hold a high language, and to talk of oversetting the government 
of kings. An attack was made upon regal authority, a spirit was 
stirred among those desirous of such schemes — it seemed to. inspire 
them. There was a talk of overturning the government of king, 
lords, and commons — success at the same time seemed to crown the 
arms of the French ; they advanced beyond their own territory, and 
menaced an attack upon the United States of Holland. In this 
situation of things, there did pervade a gloomy apprehension for the 
safety of the country. Emissaries from France were spread through- 
out Europe ; a new array of a new corps was made in Dublin in the 
noon day, decorated with emblems of sedition ; they were to parade 
in your streets, and to be marshalled in your squares. The Volun- 
teers of Ireland, a name revered by this country and by every good 
man loving the constitution, that sacred name was made a cloak for 
arming a banditti, that arraigned the constitution and degraded the 
name of Volunteer ; a National Guard was formed upon the plan of 
those in Paris. It is notorious to every man in Ireland, to every 
man in the British dominions, that such men assembled with clothing 
of a peculiar uniform, with emblems of harps divested of the royal 
crown ; every thing was undertaken to spread the spirit which 
animated themselves, and can any man forget the situation of Dublin, 
in September, October, and November, 1792, which caused appre- 
hensions in those who were well affected to the government and 


tranquillity of the country ? Can any man forget the state of the 
nation at this period ? her credit was shaken, good people stood 
appalled ; those loving peace stood astonished at the languidness of 
government. At length that government came forward which had 
never slept, but had been proceeding with mildness, determined not 
to go forth to action, nor have recourse to any severer remedies until 
every man in the state, who had a moment's reflection, must see the 
necessity of the exertion. The troops are summoned to meet, the 
guards are summoned to assemble, and the first battalion of National 
Guards were to have paraded, clothed like Frenchmen. The night 
before the Lord Lieutenant had summoned the council of the king- 
dom ; upon that night, a proclamation issued, stating that there were 
intentions to assemble men in arms, with seditious signs, and appre- 
hending danger from their so assembling ; it prohibited their meeting. 
The proclamation issued on a Saturday night, and it produced that 
satisfaction which all good men desirous of order seek to enjoy ; and 
they felt once more the pleasurable assurance that they had a govern- 
ment. Appalled by this proclamation, the corps did not meet on the 
8th December, as it was intended, though some few were seen dressed 
in the National Guard uniform, parading the streets, with a mob, 
crowding at their heels ; but however nothing followed. They were 
seen, and blessed be God, they were seen no more. This proclama- 
tion, having for its object the preservation of the peace of this king- 
dom, and the city in particular, mildly and coolly cautioning 
all men against those measures, held out the consequences that 
must necessarily follow, if they did not obey. A proclamation 
which received the applause of the great and good, of the lovers of 
society, and of every man not lost to the sense of order and the 
constitution; but odious to every man who was attached to the 
Society of United Irishmen, and whose views corresponded with it. 
While I speak of that Society let me not be understood as imputing 
to every man who is in it, those illegal motives which I impute to the 
Society in general : there might have been in it no doubt many well- 
meaning persons ; for there were men picked up industriously to lend 
their names, in the streets, in the lanes, in the markets, in the high- 
ways, and in the fields. Even the rich and industrious grazier was 
procured to lend his name. To the good, this proclamation gave 
pleasure and satisfaction, to the bad it became odious and detestable ; 
and they accordingly formed the intention of bringing the government 
into disgrace, for issuing that proclamation. A few days after, I am 
not aware of the particular day, but a few days after the issuing the 
proclamation, the Society assembled ; the proclamation was upon the 
7th, the address I speak of was published the 16th of December. 
The meeting, therefore, must have been between the 7th and the 16th 
of December. The society, I say, assembled, and they agreed upon 
a certain address to the Volunteers of Ireland, and Dr. Drennan is 
there stated to have been in the chair, and the traverser, Secre- 
tary. At that meeting the address to the Volunteers was agreed 
upon, which is the libel charged against Mr. Rowan, as being 
guilty of publishing it. Under that address, this was to be done. The 
Volunteers of Dublin were to be called into action, and those papers 
were to be dispersed among them. For that purpose the several 



Volunteer corps at that lime existing in Dublin were summoned to 
assemble in a house in Cope-street, belonging to Pardon, a fencing- 
master, upon the 16th of December. Accordingly upon that day, 
the several corps of Volunteers did go with side arms to this fencing- 
school in Cope-street. The traverser was, I believe, at the head of 
one of these corps ; another very celebrated name was at the head 
of another of them, James Napper Tandy. Who was at the head of 
the others I am not able to inform you. But in the afternoon of the 
16th of December, several Volunteers, with uniforms and side arms, 
assembled in the fencing-school. In this fencing-school, gentlemen, 
there was a gallery, and into that gallery there was such public access 
that what passed below may be said to have passed in the face of the 
world ; to such excess had those persons carried their designs as to 
expose them to open view, and if I state what is not true, there are 
one hundred persons in the Volunteer corps of the city of Dublin, out 
of whom a multitude may be called to contradict me. The corps, I 
say, assembled in that room. There stood in the middle of the room 
a table, and there was a vast number of printed papers brought in 
and placed on the table. The different corps entered into several 
resolutions, having taken into their wise consideration the proclama- 
tion issued by the Lord Lieutenant and Council ; the necessity for 
issuing it is investigated, each of the corps took severally into their 
consideration the propriety of it, and next day published their dif- 
ferent sentiments all expressive of strong disapprobation. So that it 
is manifest they were brought publicly together for a state purpose, 
and to debate a state matter. While these resolutions were in dis- 
cussion, Mr. Tandy and Mr. Rowan were seen to take from the 
table the printed papers that lay upon it, and disperse them among 
the several Volunteers who stood around them, and to hand them 
from the lower room to persons in the gallery, and to persons not in 
their confidence; they were handed up promiscuously to any man 
there, and to many persons in the streets that evening and the next 
day; they were flung out of the windows to the mob that stood round 
the room. These, gentlemen, are the circumstances which preceded 
the publication of this paper by the traverser : it will be for you to 
consider with what view and purpose a paper like this was composed 
and thus dispersed. If you believe it was a candid and fair discussion 
upon constitutional subjects, or upon grievances real or supposed, 
yon will not consider it as a libel : but if from internal evidence in 
the paper itself, and from the circumstances attending it, you believe 
it was no such thing, but that it was published with a view to raise 
discontents against the government — to disturb the people — to overawe 
the parliament, or any branch of the state, then you must find him 
guilty. You, gentlemen, will take the paper into your room with you ; 
consider it cooly, and discharge from your minds, all you have 
heard abroad respecting it, and determine whether it be possible 
to give any other construction than that which the information has 
ascribed to it. I will submit to you, gentlemen — to you alone I 
desire to submit the cool examination of that paper, upon the paper 
itself. It is impossible with all the ingenuity (and he who comes after 
me on the other side has as much ingenuity as any man) to shew that 
it was not written for the purpose of overawing the legislature, or to 


account for it in any other way. This brings me now to the libel itself, 
and as it has not been read to you in this court, for in open court I wish 
it to be read, I will read it, and make such observations as I think 
necessary. " The Society of United Irishmen, at Dublin, to the 
Volunteers of Ireland. William Drennan, Chairman, Archibald 
Hamilton Rowan, Secretary. Citizen Soldiers." A language, gentle- 
men, which excites ideas in one's mind that cannot be described. 
You will perceive in this publication the frippery of the French 
language as now used ; and those ideas will be excited, which must fill 
the mind of every man who regards religion, society, or peace, with 
terror and alarm. " Citizen Soldiers, you first took up arms to protect 
your country from foreign enemies, and, from domestic disturbance. 
For the same purpose, it now becomes necessary, that you should 
resume them." The Society of United Irishmen, who say they are no 
corporation, yet as if they were a corporation, presume to tell the 
armed people of Ireland when it is they should assemble : Is that or 
is it not tending to sedition ? Is it or is it not assuming a power to 
overawe the parliament and overturn the government itself ? "A 
proclamation has been issued in England for embodying the militia, and 
a proclamation has been issued by the Lord Lieutenant and Council 
in Ireland, for repressing all seditious associations. In consequence of 
both these proclamations, it is reasonable to apprehend danger from 
abroad, and danger at home. From whence but from apprehended 
danger, are those menacing preparations for war drawn through the 
streets of this capital," (alluding to some cannon which were drawn 
through the streets a few days before to protect the inhabitants 
against the dangers apprehended,) " or whence if not to create that 
internal commotion which was not found, to shake that credit which 
was not affected, to blast that Volunteer honour which was hitherto 
inviolate." Whatl did the proclamation, forbidding seditious asso- 
ciations and assemblies of men, with banners expressive of disloyalty, 
violate the honour of that glorious institution, which was raised to 
protect and support the constitution, that those seditious men calling 
themselves Volunteers were assembled to destroy, and this Society of 
United Irishmen did wish to overturn ? That is what is stated in 
this, for so I will call it until you teach me another language, this 
abominable seditious libel. " Whence are those terrible suggestions and 
rumours and whispers, that meet us at every corner and agitate at 
least our old men, our women and children ? Whatever be the motive, 
or from whatever quarter it arises, alarm has arisen; and you, 
VOLUNTEERS OF IRELAND, are therefore summoned to arms 
at the instance of government, as well as by the responsibility attached 
to your character, and the permanent obligations of your institution." 
First you will observe gentlemen, they make the ancient Volunteers 
those whose honor was wounded and blasted by the proclamation, and 
then they tell them that the proclamation has summoned them to 
assemble in arms — strange inconsistency of rhapsody ! With regard 
to such parts as are unintelligible, for there are many parts the most 
bombastical and absurd that ever appeared in any publication, I pass 
them over, it is not my wish to criticise them. " We will not at 
this day, condescend to quote authorities for the right of having and 
of using arms." Who had called in question the right of the people 



to cany arms ? Is it because the government said, that arms should 
not be used to the destruction or danger of the people, that, therefore, 
the legality of carrying them is questioned ? " But we will cry aloud, 
even amidst the storm raised by the witchcraft of a proclamation.'' la 
that a direct charge against government, that they laid a scheme to 
raise a storm ? " That to your formation was owing the peace and 
protection of this island, to your relaxation has been owing its relapse 
into impotence and insignificance, to your renovation must be owing 
its future freedom, and its present tranquillity. You are, therefore, 
summoned to arms, in order to preserve your country in that guarded 
quiet, which may secure it from external hostility, and to maintain 
that internal regimen throughout the land, which superseding a 
notorious police or a suspected militia, may preserve the blessings of 
peace, by a vigilant preparation for war." Now, gentlemen, here you 
see a reflection cast : if they meant to state a grievance, or to reason 
upon a point of constitution why not do it? — they had a right. 
But does that mark the meaning and intention of the publication ? 
Why reflect upon legal establishments, and why endeavour to cry 
down a body of men, which it was well known to be in the con- 
templation of government to raise? They endeavoured to render 
odious the militia before it was created, because they foresaw it would 
protect the state, against the schemes which they had formed. They 
next inform these men, that they are not embodied as before stated, 
for the protection of their country, but to resist a body of men about 
to be constituted by government for the protection and safety of the 
state, but whom they are pleased to deem suspicious ; is not this to 
raise disturbance ? is not this to excite tumult ? " Citizen soldiers, to 
arms ! Take up the shield of freedom and the pledges of peace- 
peace the motive and end, of your virtuous institution. War an 
occasional duty, ought never to be made an occupation. Every man 
should become a soldier, in the defence of his rights; no man ought 
to continue a soldier, for offending the rights of others. The sacrifice 
of life in the service of our country, is a duty much too honourable to 
be entrusted to mercenaries, and at this time, when your country has 
by public authority been declared in danger, we conjure you by your 
interest, your duty, and your glory, to stand to your arms, and in 
spite of a police, in spite of a fencible militia, in virtue of two proclama- 
tions, to maintain good order in your vicinage, and tranquillity in Ire- 
land." The police established in the different counties are first 
represented in an odious light to the Volunteers ; a reflection is cast 
upon the militia, and now the mercenaries are stigmatized, and a 
distinction taken between them and the Volunteers of Ireland, thus 
summoned by the corporation of United Irishmen. " It is only by the 
military array of men in whom they confide, whom they have been 
accustomed to revere as the guardians of domestic peace, the pro- 
tectors of their liberties and lives, that the present agitation of the 
people can be stilled, that tumult and licentiousness can be repressed, 
obedience secured to existing law, and a calm confidence diffused 
through the public mind, in the speedy resurrection of a free con- 
stitution, of liberty and of equality." Here, gentlemen, let me call 
your attention. What meaning can be given to these words by the 
plainest man in the hall of these courts ? What ! was our free 


The Catholic cause is subordinate to our cause, and included in it ; 
for, as United Irishmen, we adhere to no sect, but to society — to no 
creed, but Christianity — to no party, but to the whole people. In the 
sincerity of our souls, do we desire Catholic emancipation ; but were 
it obtained to-morrow, to-morrow would we go on as we do to-day, 
in the pursuit of that reform, which would still be wanting to ratify 
their liberties as well as our own. For both these purposes it appears 
necessary that provincial conventions should assemble preparatory to 
the convention of the Protestant people. The delegates of the Catholic 
body are not justified in communicating with individuals, or even bodies 
of inferior authority, and therefore an assembly of a similar nature and 
organization," (French language still occurring with French ideas) 
"is necessary to establish an intercourse of sentiment, an uniformity of 
conduct, an united cause and an united nation. If a convention on 
the one part does not soon follow, and is not soon connected with 
that on the other, the common cause will split into the partial interest ; 
the people relax into inattention and inertness ; the union of affection 
and exertion will dissolve ; and too probably some local insurrections, 
instigated by the malignity of our common enemy, may commit the 
character and risk the tranquillity of the island." Gentlemen, the 
paper mentions here the common enemy ; as to who is meant by the 
expression, you will judge ; did they mean those who were about to 
defeat their machinations, and who would not commit the tranquillity 
of the island to the convention to be assembled ? It says " an assembly 
of a similar nature and organization is necessary." These are 
Gallic sentences and suited only to the soil of France. " Local 
insurrection may commit the character and risk the tranquillity 
of the island, which can be obviated only by the influence of an 
assembly arising from, assimilated with the people, and whose spirit 
may be, as it were, knit with the soul of the nation, unless the 
sense of the Protestant people be, on their part, as fairly collected 
and as judiciously directed ; unless individual exertion consolidates 
into collective strength ; unless the particles unite into one mass, we 
may perhaps serve some person or some party for a little, but the 
public not at alL The nation is neither insolent, nor rebellious, 
nor seditious. While it knows its rights, it is unwilling to mani- 
fest its powers ; it would rather supplicate administration to an- 
ticipate revolution by a well-timed reform, and to serve their 
country in mercy to themselves." An address to the Volun- 
teers to obtain universal emancipation I — holding out, that 
this kind of remonstrance should be attended to, before the 
power of the nation should be exerted. What meaning does a com- 
mon understanding annex to these words ? Was it not a threat ? 
Was it not to spirit up the minds of the people against the members 
of parliament ? Was it necessary for the purpose of cool investi- 
gation, or to obtain constitutional redress, that the people should 
exert their power ? and to threaten parliament, by telling them there 
was a force to be raised against them ? Unless a reasonable account 
is given why this language was inserted, and what the meaning of it 
was, I must presume, it was for the purpose I mention. " The 
fifteenth of February approaches, a day ever memorable in the annals 
of this country as the birth-day of new Ireland ; let parochial meetings 



be held as soon as possible— [here you have an exact delineation of 
the French government} — let each parish return delegates, let the 
sense of Ulster be again declared from Dungannon on a day auspi- 
cious to union, peace, and freedom, and the spirit of the North will 
again become the spirit of the nation." Now, gentlemen of the jury, 
you will mark this next sentence, and it will be a clue to the whole. 
" The civil assembly ought to claim the attendance of the military 
associations, and we have addressed you, citizen soldiers, on this 
subject, from the belief, thai your body, uniting conviction with zeal, 
and zeal with activity, may have much influence over your country- 
men, your relations and friends." The nation is in danger from 
foreign foes and from domestic enemies — so they state. The procla- 
mation calls forth the forces of the state. The United Irishmen raise 
their audible voice, and call the people to arms. For what ? Is it 
to assist the government to repel the foreign enemy, and seditious foe ? 
But how ? A convention is to be assembled, and they are to call 
around them the national forces. The convention was to meet at 
Dungannon — there assembled, were these forces to repress foreign 
foes and domestic sedition ? Gentlemen, it is but too obvious for what 
purpose this was intended : this sentence speaks the language of the 
whole of this paper — and if it had been drawn with more art than it 
is, here is the clue to the whole : — the force of the nation was to be 
assembled under the controul of the convention, assembled under the 
great seal of the United Irishmen, who say they are not a corpo- 
ration; but who have a corporation seal: — For what purpose? to 
obtain universal emancipation and representative legislature ! They 
are held up as such a force and controuling power, as must produce 
that effect upon the king, lords and commons. An effect which they 
profess to have designed for the good of their country — if they did, 
they should seek its accomplishment, by reason and by argument. 
But to publish a call to arms to that power and authority which for 
years this country has respected, and from which, certainly, since 
1784 every blessing in society has been derived (and every man who 
looks for those blessings of life, otherwise than by a due regard to all 
ranks of men, blasphemes the God which made us all) — I say, to call 
upon the whole body of the people to rise in arms, and be their own 
rulers, is a species of government, which, when it comes, will be an 
equal misfortune to the poor and the rich. The rich would lose that 
which they enjoy, and more — the power of contributing to the neces- 
sities of the poor — industry will no longer continue to have the 
motives to labour and those habits of economy which the protection 
of a mild constitution encourages, but the people will be turned out 
to a system of plunder, robbery and murder, such as we find prevail- 
ing in another country. The paper goes on and recites, " We offer 
only a general outline to the public, and meaning to address Ireland, 
we presume not at present to fill up the plan or pre-occupy the mode 
of its execution, we have thought it our duty to speak — Answer us 
by actions. [An open invitation to force and violence.] You have 
taken time for consideration. Fourteen long years are elapsed since 
the rise of your associations ; and in 1782 did you imagine that in 
1792 this nation would still remain unrepresented?" These Volun- 
teers of 1782 had not all these schemes in view — but this Society 



here expressly tells the people, with arms in their hands, that they 
remain unrepresented ; and adds, " How many nations in this interval 
have gotten the start of Ireland? How many of our countrymen 
have sunk into the grave ?" What is meant by nations having got 
the start of Ireland ? is it the revolution in France ; they indeed 
have gotten the start of Ireland in calamity and distress, long may 
they hold their distance, and that long may be the period before we 
shall overtake them, is my most sincere and earnest wish. 

Such is this paper — I have read it accurately. Gentlemen of the 
jury, it is for you to consider the whole of it, and determine whether 
it was published by Mr. Rowan, and whether it be a libel or not ? If 
you should be of opinion that Mr. Rowan is guilty of publishing this 
paper, then you are to consider whether it is a libel or not ? Gentle- 
men, it is the peculiar felicity of this country, the great blessing of 
our constitution, that we have a trial by jury ; in France it is polluted ; 
but it is the boast of our constitution that we have a trial by jmry, 
and the great preservative of that blessing and of the constitution 
itself, is the liberty of the press ; that is the great bulwark of our free 
constitution, we have a trial by jury, and of the freedom of the press 
you are the guardians. You, gentlemen, are by the constitution 
appointed to decide upon all these questions touching the freedom of 
the press. The freedom of the press cannot be destroyed but in two 
ways, first, by the overweening power of the crown, 2dly, by its own 
licentiousness, corrupting the minds of the people ; and when it is 
destroyed, then will our constitution be at an end. While the press 
is left open to cool and fair discussion upon legal and public topics of 
grievance and constitution, so long will the freedom of our constitu- 
tion endure, and whenever an attempt is made to controul it, you will 
step in and guard and protect it as you would guard your property, 
your lives, and your liberties ; you will secure it from licentiousness. 
Where its licentiousness is not punished through the weakness or 
timidity of a jury, its freedom can no longer exist. What does the 
paper which is the subject of the present question purport to be ? it 
looks for a reform of parliament, it calls to arms the citizens under 
pretence of supporting the government by resisting it, by speaking of 
grievances which cannot be endured, it is overawing the parliament. 
If such licentiousness be tolerated, then the freedom of the press will 
be destroyed. You, gentlemen, will consider whether this paper 
contains in itself internal evidence to shew that the motives of its 
publication were not for the purpose of reasoning with the people, or 
for the necessary correction of any evil in the constitution, but to 
excite sedition and tumult. If in that case you believe that Mr. 
Rowan published it, then you must find him guilty. If, on the other 
hand, you are of opinion, that this was a cool and dispassionate paper, 
reasoning with the people in a becoming manner, acknowledging the 
authority of the law, then you will acquit him. Further, let the 
tendency of the paper be what it may, if you are of opinion, he did 
not publish it, then you must acquit him. We will produce a witness 
to shew he published an individual paper — we will prove that he took 
several others and dispersed them abroad — if you believe the evidence, 
it will be impossible but that you must be satisfied he is guilty. Thus 
stands the evidence. I have stated that the traverser was Secretary 



to the United Irishmen. It will be proved thus : — he published that 
paper ; if he did, he acknowledged the contents of it to be true, and 
the paper states him to be secretary of the Society. Gentlemen, 
such is the case as it appears to me on the part of the crown. I will 
not pretend to anticipate what may be offered by the gentlemen on 
the other side. Two topics, however, have occurred as likely to be 
introduced : — one is, the case of the Volunteers — the other, the 
| functions of a jury under the late act of parliament. Upon the first, 
' I have said abundance to satisfy you. I will suppose however, that this 
paper was addressed to the old Volunteers: what then? The 
| tendency of the paper was to excite those Volunteers to commit 
actions that would tarnish the honour acquired by their previous 
conduct. Let them shew that the proclamation (against which this 
! was a counter proclamation) went against the old Volunteers — it 
| meant no such thing — it describes them so and so. But there were 
among the old Volunteers men actuated by new principles and new 
I motives, that it became the duty of government to suppress them. 
For your sake they did so — no government should be influenced but 
1 by the prosperity of the whole state. But in what respect did these 

men resemble the old Volunteers ? Not in a single feature : these men 
were assembled by the call of the United Irishmen in Back-lane ; the 
ancient Volunteers were assembled by the call of government and the 
Lord Lieutenant, who distributed arms among them from the arsenal, 
for the public defence ; they added to these out of their own pockets 
whatever they thought necessary ; they were collected to support that 
constitution which is now sought to be overturned. Were these new 
Volunteers of that description ? Were they so formed? How were 
they equipped ? The green cockade was adopted in the place of the 
black. I have no necessity for this ; but fearful that men will have 
recourse to such topics to cajole you, I think it necessary to take notice 
of them. Secondly, as to the act of parliament within this kingdom, 
I am not aware that it operates here ; but even by it, as it now stands 
1 and I told you so before, you have a right to enter into the guilt or 

i innocence of intention upon this occasion, as you would upon the trial 
| of any other offence. Gentlemen, to you, and most willingly, I 
I commit this case ; I desire no more than that you will by your 

I verdict vindicate the freedom of the press and punish the licentious- 

ness of it. 

First witness for the prosecution. — John Lyster. — Examined by the 
Prime- Serjeant. 

Q. Do you recollect the 16th of December 1792 ? A. I do. 

Q. Do you recollect having been at any place that day ? A. I do. 

Q, Where ? A. At one Pardon's house in Cope-street. 

Q. Were there many people assembled there ? A. There were to 
the amount of 150 or 200, with side-arms and uniforms ; there was a 
table in the room. 

Q. Did any person, and who, sit at that table ? A. There was 
Mr. Hamilton Rowan and Mr. Napper Tandy at it, and a good many 

Q. (By the court — What do you mean by uniforms? A. Regi- 
mental uniforms — scarlet with different facings.) 


Q. Did you know the person of Mr. Rowan ? A. I do. 

Q. (By the court — Do you know him now? A. He is just 
opposite to me.) 

Q. Was he sitting at the table? A. At one time he was— at 
another time he was standing. 

Q. What brought you there ? A. Merely curiosity. 

Q. How was it excited ? A. I happened to pass through Cope- 
street, and saw a great crowd — I asked what it was — they said it was 
a meeting of the United Irishmen. My brother was with me, and 
we went into the room ; we were in coloured clothes, and to the best 
of my recollection, Mr. Rowan said, no gentleman with coloured 
clothes could be there; but mentioned, that there was a gallery 
to which we might go, 

Q. Did you perceive any person perform any particular part in 
that assembly ? A. I perceived Mr. Rowan about the table very 
busy — he had papers in his hand, and there was pen and ink on the 
table ; he walked about the room, with the papers in his hand* 
Napper Tandy came up to him, read part of one of the papers — they 
were handed about — some were handed up to the gallery — I got one 
of them, and so did my brother, and several others in the gallery 
along with me. 

Q. Look at that paper — is that the one ? A. This is the paper I 
got there. 

Q. Was it one of the papers handed up to the gallery ? A. It 
was one of the papers handed by Mr. Rowan to some of the people 
about him, and by them handed up to the gallery. 

Q. Your brother also got one ? A. He did. 

Q. Was there a number distributed ? A. About 30 were thrown 
up to the gallery. 

Q. Have you any reason to ascertain that to be the particular 
paper ? A. I have, because it has my own hand- writing upon it. 

Q. You made that memorandum upon it ? A. I did. 

Q. Read it. A. " I got this paper at a meeting of the United 
Irishmen in Cope-street, the 16th of December — it came through the 
hands of Archibald Hamilton Rowan." 

Q. (By the court — You say one of these papers was read by Mr. 
Rowan, how do you know that ? A. Because I attended to the words 
he read, and they agreed with what are in this paper. 

Q. Can you swear that one of these very papers was read by 
him ? A. I can swear that part of the words were read, I cannot 
swear to the whole.) 

Cross-examined by the Recorder. 

Q. At what hour was this ? A. To the best of my knowledge it 
was between one and two. 

Q. Was this upon the 16th of December? A. It was upon the 
16th of December, 1792. 

Q. It was upon a Sunday ? A. I believe it was. 

Q. How long did you remain there ? A. For about three quarters 
of an hour. 

Q. There were about one or two hundred Volunteers below stairs ? 
A. There were. 



Q. Were they dressed in the uniforms which you had seen the old 
Volunteers were ? A. I cannot exactly say as to the facings of the 
uniforms — some of them were green. 

Q. Had not some of the old Volunteers green uniforms ? A. They 
had, and there were some of the old Volunteers in the room. 

Q. Were not the old Volunteer uniforms scarlet faced with different 
colours ? A. They were. 

Q. Were all these men sitting down, or walking up and down ? 
A. They were walking — there were very few forms or chairs in 
the room. 

Q, Were they conversing ? A. They were chatting and talking. 

Q. Did you see many of them go up to this table where the 
papers were ? A. I saw a good many of them go up to it, in the 
course of their walking back and forward. 

Q. Did you see many take papers off the table ? A. I did not see 
very many of them — I saw four, or five, or six of them. 

Q. They read them and handed them about? A. Yes, I saw 
them do so. 

Q. Did you not see them hand them about, from one to another ? 
A. I did. 

Q. By virtue of your oath, did you ever see that paper in your 
hand, in the hands of Mr. Rowan. A. I swear it was among the 
parcel upon the table, some of which were handed up to the gallery 
— I cannot say it was touched by his fingers. 

Q. (By the court — You say it was among the parcel handed to the 
gallery? A. Yes. 

Q. By whom ? A. It was in the bundle handed by Mr. Rowan 
to several there, and by them handed up to the gallery.) 

Q. Did that bundle of papers pass through the hands of more 
Volunteers than one, before it came to the gallery? A. I believe it did. 

Q. Did he hand several parcels ? A. I only saw him hand one to 
a Volunteer, who gave it to another. 

Q. Then it went through the hands of several, before it got to the 
gallery ? A. It did, through four or five. 

Q, Can you tell the name of any man through whose hands it 
passed ? A. I cannot — I was not so well acquainted with the gentlemen. 

Q. When this bundle of papers was handed up, do you know who 
in the gallery received it ? A. They were broken and separated, I 
held out my hand and got one of them — my brother another, and 
other people got some. 

Q. Were there many in the gallery ? A. There were a great many. 

Q. Did every man there get one ? A. I cannot say — every one 
that chose to take one, might. 

Q. Did they hand them about in the gallery ? A. The next man 
saw what his neighbour got ; they gave them about ; but I never parted 
with mine till yesterday. 

Q. Did you know any other Volunteers below stairs besides Mr 
Rowan ? A. I did, Mr. Tandy ; and to the best of my recollection, 
there was a Mr. Kenny whom I knew before. 

Q. Did several of the Volunteers below stairs hand up papers to 
the gallery or not ? A. I dare say several of them did. 

Q. Did not several men take papers from the table ? A. I suppose 


they did — I did not observe whether they did or not. Several, as 
they passed back and forward, went to the table, and might take them off. 
Q. Do you not know that several did take papers off? A. Several 
of them did. 

Q. You saw those papers passed through the hands of four or five 
Volunteers, before they came to the gallery ? A. A parcel of the 
papers among which this was, came up. 

Q. How came you to pitch upon that paper so accurately ? A. I 
was the first, who put out my hand. 

Q. Did you watch this particular paper ? A. Not that particular 
paper, but the bundle in which it was. 

Q. Will you swear, there were no other papers handed up ? A. To 
the best of my knowledge, there were not. 

Q. When did you put that memorandum upon it ? A. The very 
day I got it. 

Q. Where ? A. In my lodging. 

Q. Did any body advise you to make a memorandum ? A. No one 
did : — I generally, when I get an improper paper, make such memo- 

Q. For what purpose ? A. Just a fancy of my own. 
Q. Did you make that memorandum in order to enable you to 
prove it upon a prosecution ? A. I did not. 

Q. To whom did you first communicate your having this paper 
and the memorandum ? A. I shall tell you. There was a brother 
of mine who did business for the late Mr. Adderley — there were 
different accounts between them — my brother went to the Castle to 
Mr. Hobart to shew the accounts — Mr. now Lord Hobart, desired my 
brother to call upon Mr. Pollock, the agent for young Mr. Adderley. — 
Mr. Pollock said he had heard that I and my brother were present at 
the meeting in Cope-street, and that he understoood it was a very 
improper meeting. 

Q. How long was this after the meeting ? A. I cannot say. 
Q. Was it a week or a month ? A. I cannot recollect. Mr. Pollock 
said, " You have been there I understand." I said, we were, and that 
we saw such things going forward. I had one of the papers in my 
pocket and shewed it to him. He said, Mr. Hobart heard I was 
there, and that I should give information of it as it was against the 
king and constitution. I said I would not encourage any thing against 
the king, but would do what was proper. Mr. Kemmis came to my 
lodging next day — the circumstances were talked over — we said we 
would make no delay in making any information concerning it, and 
it was in that manner they came to a knowledge of it. 

Q. (By the court) What Mr. Kemmis ? A. The Crown Solicitor. 
Q. Were you of any profession at the time you attended this 
meeting ? A. I was not. 

Q. You are in the army now ? A. I have that honour. 
Q. What Commission ? A. An ensign's commission. 
Q. How long since did you obtain it ? A. I have been gazetted 
since the 27th of June last. 

Q. In what regiment ? A. In the 40th. 

Q. You say you heard some of that paper read ? A. I do, Sir, the 
greater part of it. 



Q. Was this when all the Volunteers were walking about ? A. Some 
were walking about, others gathered about the place, while the paper 
was reading by Mr. Rowan. 

Q. Can you point out any part of the paper you heard read. A. I 

Q. Show such part as you heard ? A. He began, " The Society of 
United Irishmen," and so on. 

Q* He did not read it all ? A. He read the greater part. 

Q. Can you say where he stopped ? A. I cannot. 

Q. Did you obtain your commission by purchase ? A. No, I did 
not ; I got it through the interest of a lady I have the honour of being 
related to — Lady Hobart. 

Q. Pray, were you ever a witness to a bond or two bonds executed 
by your father to one of your brothers ? A. I was. 

Q. To your younger brother ? A. Yes. 

Q. Was there any suit or issue directed to try whether the bond 
was genuine or a forgery ? A. There was an issue to try whether it 
was my father's bond or not. I do not say it was to try whether it 
was a forgery. 

Q. Was it not alleged by your father and your elder brother that it 
was a forgery ? A. My elder brother thought to keep my younger 
brother out of the property, and I supposed he alleged it was a forgery. 
I am sorry to mention these matters here. My father filed a bill 
against us, alleging the bonds to be forgeries, and Mr. Simon Butler,* 
a very honourable gentleman, to whom I am under many obligations, 
undertook the business, and we recovered the money. I see the 
defendant has brought parchments into court this day. I saw Mr. 
Blake who is to give evidence against me here. If I was aware of 
these things being mentioned, I should have the gentleman here who 
could prove them — I speak of the bonds for £500. 

Q. Was there not an issue to try them ? A. There was an order 
to have it tried in the country. 

Q. Were you not examined in the country upon that trial ? A. I 
believe I was. 

Q. You are not sure ? A. I am sure. 

Q. Did you swear to the due execution of these bonds ? A. To 
the best of my knowledge I was examined — I was witness to the 

Q. Can you swear whether you were examined or not? . A. I 
cannot say positively whether I was or not — one of my brothers was 
examined — My elder brother, I believe, cried out to the jury, that he 
would leave it to a reference. 

Q. You cannot swear positively whether you were examined or 
not? A. I cannot. 

Q, Do you not believe you were examined ? A. I cannot swear 
positively I was ; I do believe to the best of my recollection I was — 
but I cannot swear positively. 

Q. How long is this ago ? A. It is a good while — I cannot exactly 

Q. Is it three years ago? A. I believe it is. 

* An intimate friend of Mr. Rowan. 


Q. Only three years ago and you cannot say positively whether 
you were examined or not? A. I know I was to be examined, but 
I cannot say whether I was or not. * 

Q. Were you not examined to the best of your belief? A. To 
the best of my recollection I was ; but I cannot swear positively. 

Q. Do you recollect the judge before whom that issue was tried ? 
A. I do. 

Q. Before whom was it ? A. Before one of their lordships on the 
bench (Judge Boyd.) 

Q. Were there not more witnesses than one, examined to shew it 
was not your father's hand writing ? A. I do not know, I believe 
there were many examined, but they did not say positively it was 
not my father's hand-writing. 

Q. What verdict was there ? A. There was no verdict at all. 

Q. Was it not because the jury could not agree ? A. No, it was 

Q. Will you swear to that ? A. I will not ; but I think my elder 
brother called out, perceiving himself wrong, and said, he would 
leave it to a reference. 

Q. Was it ever left to the reference ? A. It was. 

Q. What was done ? A. I cannot say, I was not there ; but most 
people imagined the referees were wrong in doing as they did. 

Q. Did they give the amount of the bonds ? A. They did not. 

Q. What was the amount of the bonds ? A. One was £500 the 
other £300, it is not yet decided, my brother intends to bring it into 
the courts to set aside the award. 

Q. (By the court. Do you know what they allowed? A. I 
know not. 

Q. Did you ever hear ? A. Some hundreds.) 

Q. Did you ever hear it was £200 ? A. I did not. 

Q. Two hundred are some hundreds ? A. They are, but as I was 
not to get any of the money, I believe nothing about it. 

Q. Did not a gentleman of the name of Walter Lambert file a bill 
against you ? A. He did. 

Q. Was he executor of Peter Hamilton ? A. He was. 

Q. Why did he file a bill ? A. It is a very unjust bill. Peter 
Hamilton had married my sister, he became insane and I went to 
stay with him in a madhouse in England ; I had no support from 
my father at that time, and I thought Mr. Hamilton's relations 
should pay my expenses and support me ; a Mr Nagle recommended 
me to bring Mr. Hamilton home ; I did by force put him on board a 
ship and brought him to Cork, and from thence home to Galway ; he 
had intervals of reason, and he gave me a bond for £150 part of 
which was paid. I went to Judge Kelly, a relation of his, to inter- 
fere ; in some time I got a note for the money, and after his death the 
executor filed a bill against me. 

Q. Did he not charge the note not to be the hand- writing of Peter 
Hamilton ? A. No : the note was in my hand- writing with Mr. 
Hamilton's name signed by himself. 

Q. Did you ever recover any part of it ? A. No, it is not yet 

Q. Is there an injunction against you ? A. No : I believe not ; I 


whs nonsuited by the neglect of Mr. Morton, my attorney, who left 
the papers in town, when the trial came on in the country. 

Q. After you drew this note, Mr. Peter Hamilton put his name to 
it? A. Yes. 

Q. And you sued for it, and did not recover? A. He was as 
perfectly in his senses when he put his name to it as I am ; he 
transacted his own business as if he had not been mad. 

Q. Did he not live many years after this ? A. No, he did not : 
he might have lived many years if he had not shot himself. 

Q. (By Juror, Mr. Minchin. Did you see many more of the 
papers handed up ? A. I did. 

Q. Were there any of another tendency ? A. There were not) 

Second Witness, Mr. William Morton. — Examined by the 

Q. Do you remember being at Cope-street, Dublin, on the 16th of 
December, 1792 ? A. I do. 

Q. Do you recollect to have seen "anything there, or to have got 
admission into any place there ? A. I do ; I saw a number of men 
assembled there, for what purpose I cannot say ; they were arrayed 
in military dress. 

Q. What were they doing ? A. They drew up a form of resolu- 
tions at a table. 

Q. Do you recollect to have seen any particular person there ? 
A I recollect to have seen Mr. Hamilton Rowan and Mr. Napper 

Q. (By the court.) Do you know Mr. Rowan ? A. I do. 

Q. Did you know him before that day ? A. I have seen, but was 
not acquainted with him. 

Q. Do you know him now ? A. I do ; he is there, (pointing to him.) 

Q. Did or did not Mr. Rowan appear to take an active part in that 
meeting ? A. He did. 

Q. Do you recollect anything about papers of any description ? A. 
I shall mention what I know : I gained admission into the gallery, 
there were a number of papers or advertisements brought in, as if wet 
from the press, and distributed about. 

Q. Were they in large or small parcels ? A. There was a large 
parcel in a man's arm, wet as from the press. 

Q. What became of them ? A. They were laid upon the table, 
and some were given to Mr. Napper Tandy. 

Q. Did you see any of them ? A. I did. 

Q. Had you an opportunity of reading them ? A. I had. 

Q. How came you to have that opportunity? A. I saw some of 
them taken up by Mr. Rowan and delivered to some of the members, 
and by them handed up to the gallery. A gentleman near me 
received one of them ; I immediately took it out of his hand : there 
were many thrown up ; one was read by a gentleman, and I remember 
while he read it, a number were thrown out of the windows to the mob, 
who desired more of them, and accordingly they were sent to them. 

Q. Was the paper read in a loud manner ; did every man know what 
was doing in the gallery ? A. Every man could hear it I believe. 


Q. Did you keep one of these papers ? A. I did. 

Q. Where is it ? A. I gave it to a person, who, I understand 
has since mislaid it. 

Q. Do you recollect any part of it ? A. The beginning of it : it 
was from the association of United Irishmen : it began — " To arms 
citizens, to arms !" 

Q. Did you hear it read ? A. I did. 

Q. When it was begun, did that passage make an impression upon 
you, that you remember it ? A. It was a young gentleman in the 
gallery who read it through ; the people there called out, read it for 
the benefit of us all. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Fletcher. 

Q. Are you of any profession ? A. I am a gold-beater. 

Q. Do you get your livelihood by that ? A. I am an apprentice, 
serving my time to that business. 

Q. Is your father living ? A. He is not. 

Q. How came you to be at this meeting ? A. It was on a Sunday, 
and I was unemployed. I met a young gentleman who asked me to 
go to Cope-street. I went from curiosity. 

Q. At what hour did you go there ? A. It was in the forenoon, 
from eleven to one. There were several gentlemen in uniform. 

Q. What was their uniform ? A. Scarlet faced with green ; there 
were some light infantry in their jackets ; there were different corps. 

Q. Upon your oath, were not all the uniforms you saw, the 
appropriated uniforms of the old Volunteer corps? A. I cannot 

Q. Do you not believe they were ? A. I suppose they were ; but 
I had been absent, and had not seen them for some time. 

Q. You were in the gallery when you saw those bundles of 
papers ? A. I was. 

Q. Were there more than one ? A. Not that I remember ; I saw 
but one. 

Q. Did not several persons go up to the table and get these papers ? 
A. I cannot say ; I believe not. I was in the gallery ; there was a 
beam in the middle of the room, and when they went to the upper 
end of the room, the beam prevented me from seeing them. 

Q. You said you saw Mr. Rowan take one of these papers and 
hand it to some other person? A. I did not say one: I saw him 
take some papers, and had them about. 

Q. What papers were they ? A. I cannot say, whether he took 
them off the table or not. He took part of those that came in : 
several of the members asked him for some ; I suppose he gave them. 

Q. Supposition will not do ; say upon your oath, what you saw 
take place with regard to Mr. Rowan and these papers ? A. When 
they came in, Mr. Rowan and Mr. Tandy took some of them, they 
delivered them to the Volunteers ; one of the Volunteers threw some 
up to the gallery, and I got one. 

Q. Did you not say there was but one bundle ? A. I did. 

Q. Did you say, that from your situation you could not see what 
passed at the table ? A. Part of the table I could see. 

Q. Were you in such a situation as to see everything which passed 


at the table ? A. The Volunteers were walking up and down, and 
sometimes I could not see everything there. 

Q. Do you know the names of any of the persons from whom these 
papers came to the gallery? A. No. I did not know any one in 
the room but Mr. Tandy, and Mr. Rowan. 

Q. Can you say who the person was who read the paper, in the 
gallery ? A. I cannot. I never saw him before. 

Q. Did he read it more than once ? A. I cannot say. 

Q. Had you any of the papers in your hand, when he read it ? A. I 

Q. You kept that paper which you received ? A. I did for some 

Q. How long ? A. I do not recollect : I kept it a week or less. 

Q. Whom did you give it to ? A. An acquaintance of mine. 

Q. Has he no name ? [Here the witness hesitating in his answer, 
Mr. Sheriff GifFard called out, that he was the person to whom the 
witness delivered the paper, upon which the witness said it was to Mr. 

Q. Why did you resort to him ? A. I had no reason : I gave it 
by accident. 

Q, You had no reason ? A. None, but that he was the first person 
I met that I was acquainted with. 

Q. Did you not keep it a week ? A. No. 

Q. Did you keep it five days ? A. No, I believe not ; for I think 
I gave it to him the day after I got it. 

Q. When you said you gave it in a week, did you mean the day 
after ? A. It was less than a week. 

Q. Did you mean to convey the idea that you had it but one day, 
when you said you had it less than a week ? A. I did. 

Q. Upon your oath that was the meaning you intended to convey ? 
A. It was. 

Q. Upon your oath you say so? A. I do. 

Q. Do you generally speak in riddles of that kind ? A. No. 

Q. How long did you keep that paper ? A. Not one day : on the 
same day that I received it, I gave it to Mr. GifFard. 

Q. This meeting was in the forenoon ? A. It was. 

Q. How long after the paper was distributed did you continue at 
this assembly ? A. I do not remember when it broke up. 

Q. Was it before or after dinner ? A. It was before dinner. 

Q. (By the Court. Did you stay till the assembly broke up ? A. I did.) 

Q. Can you say how long you remained in the place after getting 
that paper ? A. I cannot say. 

Q. What do you believe ? A. Half the time was not elapsed when 
the papers were distributed, but I do not recollect ; there was a young 
man with me and we were in conversation. 

Q, What became of you afterwards ? A. We separated : he went 
to dinner I suppose. 

Q. Where did you go ? A. I went to Mr. Ryan. 

Q. You dined there ? A. No. 

Q. Who is Mr. Ryan ? A. He is a surgeon. 

<i Did you shew the paper to Mr. Ryan ? A. No ; but I met 
Mr. GifFard there and I gave it to him. 


Q. Did you expect to meet him there ? A. I did not. 

Q. Of what business is Mr. Ryan ? A. He is a surgeon. 

Q. Does he get money by any other business ? A. I do not know. 

Q. There is a paper printed in the house where he lives? 
A. There is. 

Q. What paper ? A. The Dublin Journal. 

Q. Does not Mr. Ryan superintend the publication of that paper ? 

A. I believe he does not. 

Q. Who is the proprietor of that paper? A. George Faulkner. 

Q. Do you believe he conducts that paper now ? A. I am not to 
know any thing about it. 

Q. But can you not form a belief? A. I cannot form a belief. I 
do not know. 

Q. Did you never hear that Mr. Giffard had some interest in that 
paper ? A. I did hear it. 

Q. Do you believe it ? A. I do not. I know not. 

Q. What do you believe ? A. I believe he has not.* 

Q. Did you ever hear it ? A. I did. 

Q. Why do you disbelieve it ? A. I heard it from several persons. 

Q. And you do not believe it ? A. I do not. 

Q. You do not believe that he has any connexion with that paper ? 
A. I do not believe it. 

Q. Have you heard it contradicted ? A. I have. 

Q. By whom ? A. I do not know. 

Q. What relation are you to Mr. Giffard ? A. His nephew by 

Q. And will you, his nephew, say he has not any interest in that 
paper ? A. I do. 

Q. Is not Mr. Ryan a relation of Mr. Giffard ? A. He is. 

Q. What relation ? A. I cannot say. 

Q. Who pays the rent of the house where Mr. Ryan lives ? A. 
I do not know. 

This witness retired, and then the paperf produced by Mr. Lyster 

* This paper (the Dublin Journal) was originally established by Mr. George 
Faulkner, one of the aldermen of the city of Dublin, and was ably conducted by 
him for upwards of fifty years. His house was the rendezvous of the leading 
parliamentary, literary, and political men of his day. He associated with persons 
of the highest rank, and was in the habit of entertaining them, it is said, in a style 
of splendour. From the period of his death, his paper gradually declined in spirit 
and integrity till its doom was fixed, where its fanatical career commenced on its 
coming into the hands of one of the most illiterate and illiberal men, that ever 
became ambitious of conducting a public journal. This person, Mr. John 
Giffard, better known by the complimentary soubriquet of the " dog in office," 
was brought up in the Blue Coat Hospital. He was taken by the hand, by a 
person of the name of Thwaites, a brewer, and was brought up to the business of 
an apothecary. He married a young woman in humble life in the county of 
Wexford, and set up as an apothecary in the town of Wexford ; but jjot mal- 
treated in a brawl by a man of the name of Miller, and removed to Dublin where 
he set up in the business of an apothecary in Fishamble street, in 1771. Just 
previous to the trial of Hamilton Rowan, in 1794, for a seditious libel, it was 
found necessary to have a jury which could be relied upon for a conviction, 
and a sheriff that could be trusted in such an emergency. — Mr. Giffard was made 
sheriff some months previous to the trial. Madden's United Irishmen, vol. 2, 1st 
series, p. 85. 

f See the paper at large in the information. 


was read — upon which the case for prosecution was rested. 

Lord Clonmbl, Chief- Justice, asked the counsel for the defendant 
whether they wished to have the information read, in order to com- 
pare it with the publication. 

Mr. Curran. — We have instructions not to take any captious 
objections, and therefore do not think it necessary to accept of the 
offer of the court. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — A good reason why, Mr. Curran ; there 
is no error in the record. 

Evidence for the Defendant — Francis Blake, Esq. — Examined by 

Mr. Curran. 

Q. You live in Galway ? A. I live now in Dublin, but I did live 
in the county of Roscommon. 

Q. Do you know a gentleman who was examined here to-day, of 
the name of John Lyster ? A. I believe I do. 

Q. The son of Thomas Lyster of Grange ? A. I do know him. 

Q. Do you think that Mr. Lyster is a person who would deserve 
credit, in what he would swear in a court of justice ? A. That is a 
very hard question to answer, for I never had any dealing with him, 
so as to say from my own knowledge whether he should be believed 
or not. 

Q. I only ask your opinion ; is it your opinion that he deserves 
credit upon his oath ? Do you believe it ? A. I cannot say he is : 
I might hesitate. 

Q. Can you form an opinion ? A. I have made all the answer I 
can — I cannot say that he does not deserve credit — at the same time 
I might have doubts. 

Lord Clonmel. — He only says he might hesitate — he has doubts. 

Mr. John Smith. — Examined by the Recorder. 

Q. Do you know John Lyster ? A. I have seen him, I have had 
no acquaintance with him. 

Q. Have you ever seen him examined as a witness ? A. I have. 

Q. Where ? A. At Galway summer assizes, 1791. 

Q, Was he the son of Thomas Lyster of Grange ? A. I believe 
he was. 

Q. Did you see him on the table to-day ? A. I think I did 
while I was standing upon the steps of the Exchequer. 

Q, Is it your opinion that he is a person to be believed upon his 
oath in a court of justice ? A. I cannot form a general opinion, 
with regard to the matter upon which he was examined to-day : from 
what I know of him I would give very little credit to him. 

Q. What is his general character ? 

Mr. Attorney-General. — I object to that question. 

Q. (By the Court.) — You are a man of business ; upon your oath, 
do you know enough of this man to say whether you think he ought 
to be believed upon his oath ? A. I do not ; for I know nothing of 
him, but what I saw at the trial in Galway. 


Cross-examined by Mr. Attorney-General. 

Q. Are you a member of the United Irishmen ? A. I really am 

Mrs. Mary Hatchell. — Examined by Mr. Fletcher. 

Q. Do you know Mr. John Lyster, son of Thomas Lyster of 
Grange ? A. I know Mr. John Lyster. 

Q. Is he in the army ? A. He is an ensign of the 40th. 

Q. Have you known him long ? A. I have known him well for 
better than a year ; by sight I know him a long time. 

Q. From ail that you know and have heard of this gentleman, can 
you form an opinion whether he is a person to be credited upon his 
oath ? A. From my opinion he is not. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Solicitor-General. 

Q. Pray Madam where do you live ? A. Upper Ormond-quay. 

Q. You know a brother of Mr. Lyster ? A. I do well : it calls 
painful remembrances to my mind by talking of him. 

Q. Was there any particular infidelity imputed to this gentleman 
or his brother? A. George William Lyster was married to a 
daughter of ours (my husband is living.) 

Q. Who is George William Lyster ? The younger brother of John 

Q. Your first intercourse then originated from that connexion 
between George Lyster and your daughter? A. Yes: George 
William Fitzgerald Lyster married my daughter. 

Q. It was not with your consent ? A. It was not. 

Q. You have not been induced to any painful necessity of breaking 
the marriage? A. John Lyster has found means to take away his 
brother from his wife, insisting that he had another wife. 

Q. (By the jury.) How do you know that John Lyster is the 
person who inveigled his brother from your daughter ? A. His elder 
brother told me so. 

Q. (By the court.) Is that the reason you do not believe him? 
A. It is one of the reasons. 

Q. What other reasons have you? A. Conversations with his 
elder brother. 

[Here the case was closed by the defendant.] 

A few moments before the defendant's counsel rose, a guard of 
soldiers was brought into the court-house by the sheriff. 

Mr. Curran, for defendant — Gentlemen of the jury, when I 
consider the period at which this prosecution is brought forward; 
when I behold the extraordinary safeguard of armed soldiers resorted 
to, no doubt for the preservation of peace and order : when I catch, 
as I cannot but do, the throb of public anxiety which beats from one 
end to the other of this hall ; when I reflect on what may be the fate 
of a man of the most beloved personal character, of one of the most 
respected families of our country ; himself the only individual of that 
family, I may almost say of that country, who can look to that 
possible fate with unconcern, it is in the honest simplicity of my heart 
I speak, when I say that I never rose in a court of justice with so 
much embarrassment, as upon this occasion. 

If, gentlemen, I could entertain a hope of finding refuge for the 


disconcertion of my mind, in the perfect composure of yours ; if I 
could suppose that those awful vicissitudes of human events, which have 
been stated or alluded to, could leave your judgments undisturbed 
and your hearts at ease, I know I should form a most erroneous 
opinion of your character : I entertain no such chimerical hope ; I 
form no such unworthy opinion ; I expect not that your hearts can be 
more at ease than my own ; I have no right to expect it ; but I have 
a right to call upon you in the name of your country, in the name of 
the living God, of whose eternal justice you are now administering 
that portion which dwells with us on this side of the grave, to 
discharge your breasts as far as you are able of every bias of prejudice 
or passion ; that, if my client is guilty of the offence charged upon 
him, you may give tranquillity to the public by a firm verdict of 
conviction ; or if he is innocent, by as firm a verdict of acquittal ; and 
that you will do this in defiance of the paltry artifices and senseless 
clamours that have been resorted to in order to bring him to his trial 
with anticipated conviction. And, gentlemen, I feel an additional 
necessity of thus conjuring you to be upon your guard, from the able 
and imposing statement which you have just heard on the part of the 
prosecution. I know well the virtues and the talents of the excellent 
person who conducts that prosecution ; I know how much he would 
disdain to impose on you by the trappings of office; but I also 
know how easily we mistake the lodgment which character and 
eloquence can make upon our feelings, for those impressions that 
reason and fact and proof only ought to work upon our understandings. 

Perhaps, gentlemen, I shall act not unwisely in waiving any further 
observation of this sort, and giving your minds an opportunity of 
growing cool and resuming themselves, by coming to a calm and 
uncoloured statement of mere facts, premising only to you that I 
have it in strictest injunction from my client, to defend him upon 
facts and evidence only, and to avail myself of no technical artifice 
or subtility that could withdraw his cause from the test of that 
enquiry, which it is your province to exercise, and to which only he 
wishes to be indebted for an acquittal. 

In the month of December 1792, Mr. Rowan was arrested on an 
information, charging him with the offence for which he is now on 
his trial. He was taken before an honourable personage now on that 
bench, and admitted to bail. 

He remained a considerable time in this city, soliciting the 
threatened prosecution, and offering himself to a fair trial by a jury 
of his country; but it was not then thought fit to yield to that 
solicitation ; nor has it now been thought proper to prosecute him in 
the ordinary way, by sending up a bill of indictment to a grand jury. 
I do not mean by this to say that informations ex-officio are always 
oppressive or unjust; but I cannot but observe to you, that when a 
petty jury is called upon to try a charge not previously found by the 
grand inquest, and supported by the naked assertion only of the 
king's prosecutor, that the accusation labours under a weakness of 
probability which it is difficult to assist. If the charge had no cause 
of dreading the light — if it was likely to find the sanction of a grand 
jury, it is not easy to account why it deserted the more usual, the 
more popular, and the more constitutional mode, and preferred to 


come forward In the ungracious form of an ex-officio informa- 

If such bill had been set up and found, Mr. Rowan would have 
been tried at the next commission ; but a speedy trial was not the 
wish of his prosecutors. An information was filed, and when he 
expected to be tried upon it, an error, it seems, was discovered in the 
record. Mr. Rowan offered to waive it, or consent to any amendment 
desired. No — that proposal could not be accepted — a trial must have 
followed. That information, therefore, was withdrawn, and a new 
one filed, that is in fact a third prosecution was instituted upon the 
same charges. This last was filed on the 8th day of last July. 
Gentlemen, these facts cannot fail of a due impression upon you. 
You will find a material part of your inquiry must be, whether Mr. 
Rowan is pursued as a criminal or hunted down as a victim. It is 
not, therefore, by insinuation or circuity, but it is boldly and directly 
that I assert that oppression has been intended and practised upon him, 
and by those facts which I have stated I am warranted in the assertion. 

His demand, his intreaty to be tried was refused, and why ? A hue 
and cry was to be raised against him ; the sword was to be suspended 
over his head — some time was necessary for the public mind to 
become heated by the circulation of artful clamours of anarchy and 
rebellion ; those same clamours which with more probability, but not 
more success, had been circulated before through England and Scot- 
land. In this country the causes and the swiftness of their progress 
were as obvious, as their folly has since become to every man of the 
smallest observation ; I have been stopped myself, with, " Good God, 
Sir, have you heard the news ? No Sir, what ? Why one French 
emissary was seen travelling through Connaught in a post-chaise, and 
scattering from the windows as he passed little doses of political 
poison, made up in square bits of paper — another was actually sur- 
prised in the fact of seducing our good people from their allegiance, 
by discourses upon the indivisibility of French robbery and massacre, 
which he preached in the French language to a congregation of Irish 

Such are the bugbears and spectres to be raised to warrant the 
sacrifice of whatever little public spirit may remain amongst us — but 
time has also detected the imposture of these Cock-lane apparitions, 
and you cannot now, with your eyes open, give a verdict without 
asking your consciences this question ; is this a fair and honest pro- 
secution ? Is it brought forward with the single view of vindicating 
public justice, and promoting public good ? And here let me remind 
you that you are not convened to try the guilt of a libel, affecting the 
personal character of any private man ; I know no case in which a 
jury ought to be more severe than where personal calumny is conveyed 
through a vehicle, which ought to be consecrated to public informa- 
tion ; neither, on the other hand, can I conceive any case in which 
the firmness and the caution of a jury should be more exerted, than 
when a subject is prosecuted for a libel on the state. The peculiarity 
of the British constitution, (to which in its fullest extent we have 
an undoubted right, however distant we may be from the actual 

* See Case of Sir Wm. Williams, 13 Howell's St. Tr. p. 1369; Homes Case, 
20 Howell's St. Tr. pp. 077, 692. 


enjoyment) and in which it surpasses every known government in 
Europe, is this ; that its only professed object is the general good, and 
its only foundation the general will ; hence the people have a right 
acknowledged from time immemorial, fortified by a pile of statutes, 
and authenticated by a revolution which speaks louder than them all, 
to see whether abuses have been committed, and whether their proper- 
ties and their liberties have been attended to as they ought to be. This 
is a kind of subject which I feel myself overawed when I approach ; 
there are certain fundamental principles which nothing but necessity 
should expose to public examination ; they are pillars the depth of 
whose foundation you cannot explore without endangering their 
strength ; but let it be recollected that the discussion of such topics 
should not be condemned in me, nor visited upon my client. The 
blame, if any there be, should rest only with those who have forced 
them into discussion. I say, therefore, it is the right of the people to 
keep an eternal watch upon the conduct of their rulers *, and in order 
to that, the freedom of the press has been cherished by the law of 
England. In private defamation let it never be tolerated; in wicked 
and wanton aspersion upon a good and honest administration let it never 
be supported, not that a good government can be exposed to danger 
by groundless accusation, but because a bad government is sure to 
mid m the detected falsehood of a licentious press a security and a credit, 
which it could never otherwise obtain. I said a good government 
cannot be endangered ; I say so again, for whether it be good or bad 
can never depend upon assertion, the question is decided by simple 
inspection : to try the tree look at its fruit ; to judge of the government 
look at the people ; what is the fruit of good government ? The 
virtue and happiness of the people ; do four millions of people in this 
country gather those fruits from that government to whose injured 
purity, to whose spotless virtue and violated honour, this seditious and 
atrocious libeller is to be immolated upon the altar of the constitu- 
tion ? To you, gentlemen of that jury, who are bound by the most 
sacred obligation to your country and your God, to speak nothing 
but the truth, I put the question — do they gather those fruits ? are 
they orderly, industrious, religious and contented ? do you find them 
free from bigotry and ignorance, those inseparable concomitants of 
systematic oppression ? or to try them by a test as unerring as any of 
the former, are they united ? The period has now elapsed in which 
considerations of this extent would have been deemed improper to a 
jury; happily for these countries, the legislature for each has lately 
changed, or, perhaps to speak more properly, revived and restored 
the law respecting trials of this kind. For the space of thirty or forty 
years a usage had prevailed in Westminister Hall, by which the 
judges assumed to themselves the decision of the question, whether 
libel or not; but the learned counsel for the prosecution are now 
obliged to admit that this is a question for the jury only to decide. 
You will naturally listen with respect to the opinion of the court, but 
you will receive it as matter of advice, not as matter of law ; and you 
will give it credit not from any adventitious circumstances of autho- 
rity, but merely so far as it meets the concurrence of your own 
Give me leave now to state to you the charge, as it stands upon the 



record: — It is that Mr. Rowan "being a person of a wicked and 
turbulent disposition, and maliciously designing and intending to excite 
and diffuse amongst the subjects of this realm of Ireland discontents, 
jealousies and suspicions of our Lord the King and his government, 
and disaffection and disloyalty to the person and government of our 
said Lord the King, and to raise very dangerous seditions and 
tumults within this kingdom of Ireland, and to draw the government 
of this kingdom into great scandal, infamy and disgrace, and to incite 
the subjects of our said Lord the King to attempt, by force and 
violence and with arms, to make alterations in the government, state 
and constitution of this kingdom, and to incite his Majesty's said 
subjects to tumult and anarchy, and to overturn the established 
constitution of this kingdom, and to overawe and intimidate the 
legislature of this kingdom by an armed force ;" did " maliciously 
and seditiously" publish the paper in question. 

Gentlemen, without any observation of mine, you must see that 
this information contains a direct charge upon Mr. Rowan ; namely, 
that he did, with the intents set forth in the information, publish this 
paper ; so that here you have in fact two or three questions for your 
decision : first, the matter of fact of the publication : namely, did Mr. 
Rowan publish that paper ? If Mr. Rowan did not in fact publish that 
paper, you have no longer any question on which to employ your 
minds. If you think that he was in fact the publisher, then and not 
till then arises the great and important subject to which your 
judgments must be directed. And that comes shortly and simply to 
this, is the paper a libel? and did he publish it with the intent 
charged in the information? But whatever you may think of the 
abstract question ; whether the paper be libellous or not, and of which 
paper it has not even been insinuated that he is the author, there can 
be no ground for a verdict against him, unless you also are persuaded 
that what he did was done with a criminal design. I wish, gentlemen, 
to simplify and not to perplex ; I therefore say again, if these three 
circumstances conspire, that he published it, that it was a libel, and 
that it was published with the purposes alledged in the informotion, 
you ought unquestionably to find him guilty 5 if on the other hand, 
you do not find that all these circumstances concurred ; if you cannot 
upon your oaths say that he published it ; if it be not in your opinion 
a libel, and if he did not publish it with the intention alledged : I say 
upon the failure of any one of these points, my client is intitled, in 
justice, and upon your oaths, to a verdict of acquittal. 

Gentlemen, Mr. Attorney- General has thought proper to direct 
your attention to the state and circumstances of public affairs at the 
time of this transaction; let me also make a few retrospective 
observations on a period, at which he has but slightly glanced; I 
speak of the events which took place before the close of the American 
war. You know gentlemen that France had espoused the cause 
of America, and we became thereby engaged in a war with that 
nation. Heu nescia mens hominum futuri f Little did that ill- 
fated monarch know that he was forming the first causes of 
those disastrous events, that were to end in the subversion of 
the throne, in the slaughter of his family, and the deluging of his 
country with the blood of his people. You cannot but remember 



that at a time, when we had scarcely a regular soldier for our defence; 
when the old and young were alarmed and terrified with the appre- 
hension of descent upon our coasts; that Providence seemed to have 
worked a sort of miracle in our favour. You saw a band of armed 
men come forth at the great call of nature, of honour, and their coun- 
try- You saw men of the greatest wealth and rank ; you saw every 
class of the community give up its members, and send them armed 
into the field, to protect the public and private tranquillity of Ireland. 
It is impossible for any man to turn back to that period, without 
reviving those sentiments of tenderness and gratitude, which then 
beat in the public bosom : to recollect amidst what applause, what 
tears, what prayers, what benedictions, they walked forth amongst 
spectators, agitated by the mingled sensations of terror and reliance, 
of danger and protection; imploring the blessings of Heaven upon 
their heads, and its conquest upon their swords. The illustrious and 
adored, and abused body of men stood forward and assumed the title, 
which, I trust, the ingratitude of their country will never blot from 
its history, " the Volunteers op Ireland." 

Give me leave now, with great respect, to put one question to you: 
Do you think the assembling of that glorious band of patriots was an 
insurrection ? do you think the invitation to that assembling would 
have been sedition ? They come under no commision but the call of 
their country; unauthorised and unsanctioned except by public 
emergency and public danger. I ask was that meeting insurrection 
or not ? I put another question : If any man then had published a 
call on that body, and stated that war was declared against the state ; 
that the regular troops were withdrawn ; that our coasts were 
hovered round by the ships of the enemy ; that the moment was 
approaching when the unprotected feebleness of age and sex — when 
the sanctity of habitation would be disregarded and propbaned by 
the brutal ferocity of a rude invader; if any man had then said 
to them " leave your industry for a while, that you may return to 
it again, and come forth in arms for the public defence" — I put 
the question boldly to you gentlemen — it is not the case of the 
Volunteers of that day ; it is the case of my client, at this hour, 
which I put to you — would that call have then been pronounced in 
a court of justice, or by a jury on their oaths, a criminal and 
seditious invitation to insurrection ? If it would not have been so then, 
upon what principle can it be so now — what is the force and 
perfection of the law ? It is the permanency of the law ; it is that 
whenever the fact is the same, the law is also the same ; it is that the 
law remains a written, monumented and recorded letter to pronounce 
the same decision, upon the same facts whenever they shall arise. I 
will not affect to conceal it : you know there has been an artful, 
ungrateful, and blasphemous clamour raised against these illustrious 
characters, the saviours of the kingdom of Ireland. 

Having mentioned this, let me read a few words of the paper alleged 
to be criminal : " You first took up arms to protect your country 
from foreign enemies and from domestic disturbance. For the same 
purposes it now becomes necessary that you should resume them." 
I should be the last in the world to impute any want of candour to 
the right honourable gentleman, who lias stated the case on behalf of 


the prosecution : but he has certainly fallen into a mistake, which, if 
not explained, might be highly injurious to my client He supposed 
that this publication was not addressed to those ancient Volunteers, 
but to new combinations of them, formed upon new principles, and 
actuated by different motives. You have the words to which this 
construction is imputed upon the record ; the meaning of his mind can 
be collected only from those words which he . has made use of to 
convey it The guilt imputable to him can only be inferred from the 
meaning ascribable to those words. Let his meaning then be fairly 
collected by resorting to them. Is there a foundation to suppose that 
this address was directed to any such body of men, as has been 
called a banditti, with what justice it is unnecessary to inquire, and 
not to the old Volunteers? As the sneer at the words Citizen 
Soldiers, I should feel that I was treating a very respected friend 
with an insidious and unmerited unkindness, if I affected to expose it 
by any gravity of refutation. I may, however, be permitted to 
observe, that those who are supposed to have disgraced this expression 
by adopting it, have taken it from the idea of the British constitution, 
" that no man in becoming a soldier ceases to be a citizen." Would 
to God, all enemies as they are, that that unfortunate people had 
borrowed more from that sacred source of liberty and virtue ; and 
would to God, for the sake of humanity, that they had preserved even 
the little they did borrow. If even there could be an objection to 
that appellation, it must have been strongest when it was first 
assumed.* To that period the writer manifestly alludes; he addresses 
" those who first took up arms :" you first took up arms to protect 
your country from foreign enemies and from domestic disturbance, 
For the same purposes it now becomes necessary that you should 
resume them. Is this applicable to those who had never taken up 
arms before? "A proclamation," says this paper, "has been issued 
in England for embodying the militia, and a proclamation has been 
issued by the Lord Lieutenant, and council in Ireland, for repressing 
all seditious associations. In consequence of both these proclamations, 
it is reasonable to apprehend danger from abroad, and danger at home." 
God help us, from the situation of Europe at that time, we were threat- 
ened with too probable danger from abroad, and I am afraid it was not 
without foundation we were told of our having something to dread 
at home. I find much abuse has been lavished on the disrespect 
with which the proclamation is treated, in that part of the paper 
alleged to be a libel. To that my answer for my client is short; I do 
conceive it competent to a British subject — if he thinks that a pro- 
clamation has issued for the purpose of raising false terrors, I hold it 
to be not only the privilege, but the duty of a citizen, to set his 
countrymen right, with respect to such misrepresented danger ; and 
until a proclamation, in this country, shall have the force of law, the 
reason and grounds of it are surely at least questionable by the people. 
Nay, I will go farther, if an actual law had passed receiving the 
sanction of the three estates, if it be exceptionable in any matter, it 

* Whoever will take the trouble of reading the resolutions and addresses of the 
old Volunteers, at and prior to 1783, will find the terms Citizen Soldiers, and 
Citizen Soldiery, to haye been no uncommon appellations to that body. 


is warrantable to any man in the community to state, in a becoming 
manner, bis ideas upon it. And I should be at a loss to know, if the 
positive laws of Great Britain are thus questionable, upon what 
ground the proclamation of an Irish government should not be open 
to the animadversion of Irish subjects. 

" Whatever be the motive, or from whatever quarter it arises,'* 
says this paper, " alarm has arisen." Gentlemen, do you not know 
that to be the fact ? It has been stated by the Attorney-General, and 
most truly, that the most gloomy apprehensions were entertained by 
the whole country. u You Volunteers of Ireland are therefore 
summoned to arms at the instance of government, as well as by 
the responsibility attached to your character, and the permanent 
obligations of your institution." I am free to confess if any man 
assuming the liberty of a British subject, to question public topics, 
should under the mask of that privilege publish a proclamation 
inviting the profligate and seditious, those in want and those in 
despair to rise up in arms to overawe the legislature, to rob us of 
whatever portion of the blessings of a free government we possess ; 
I know of no offence involving greater enormity. But that, gentlemen, 
is the question you are to try. If my client acted with an honest 
mind and fair intention, and having, as he believed, the authority of 
government to support him in the idea that danger was to be appre- 
hended, did apply to that body of so known and so revered character, 
calling upon them by their former honour, the principle of their 
glorious institution, and the great stake they possessed in their 
country. If he interposed not upon a fictitious pretext, but a real 
belief of actual and imminent danger, and that their arming at that 
critical moment was necessary to the safety of their country ; his 
intention was not only innocent, but highly meritorious. It is a 
question, gentlemen, upon which you only can decide ; it is for you 
to say whether it was criminal in the defendant to be so misled, and 
whether he is to fall a sacrifice to the prosecution of that government 
by which he was so deceived. I say again, gentlemen, you can look 
only to his own words as the interpreter of his meaning ; and to the 
state and circumstances of his country, as he was made to believe 
them, as the clue to his intention. The case then, gentlemen, is 
shortly and simply this ; a man of the first family and fortune, and 
character and property among you, reads a proclamation stating the 
country to be in danger from abroad and at home, and thus alarmed— 
thus upon authority of the prosecutor, alarmed, applies to that august 
body, before whose awful presence sedition must vanish, and insur- 
rection disappear. Tou must surrender, I hesitate not to say it, your 
oaths to unfounded assertion, if you can submit to say that such an 
act, of such a man, so warranted, is a wicked and seditious libel. If 
he was a dupe, let me ask you, who was the im poster ? I blush and 
I shrink with shame and detestation from that meanness of dupery 
and servile complaisance, which could make that dupe a victim to^the 
accusation of that imposter. 

Tou perceive, gentlemen, that I am going into the merits of this 
publication, before I apply myself to the question which is first in 
order of time, namely, whether the publication, in point of fact, is to 
be ascribed to Mr. Rowan or not. I have been unintentionally led 


into this violation of order. I should effect no purpose of either 
brevity or clearness, by returning to the more methodical course of 
observation. I have been naturally drawn from it by the superior 
importance of the topic I am upon, namely, the merit of die publication 
in question. 

This publication, if ascribable at all. to Mr. Rowan, contains four 
distinct subjects ; the first the invitation to the Volunteers to arm ; 
upon that I have already observed ; but those that remain are surely 
of much importance, and no doubt are prosecuted as equally criminal. 
The paper next states the necessity of a reform in parliament ; it 
states, thirdly, the necessity of an emancipation of the Catholic 
inhabitants of Ireland ; and as necessary to the achievement of all 
these objects, does, fourthly, state the necessity of a general delegated 
convention of the people. 

It has been alledged that Mr. Rowan intended by his publication 
to excite the subjects of this country to effect an alteration in the 
form of your constitution. And here, gentlemen, perhaps, you may 
not be unwilling to follow a little farther than Mr. Attorney-General 
has done, the idea of a late prosecution in Great Britain upon the 
subject of a public libel. It is with peculiar fondness I look to that 
country for solid principles of constitutional liberty and judicial 
example. You have been pressed in no small degree with the 
manner in which this publication marks the different orders of our 
constitution, and comments upon them. Let me shew you what 
boldness of animadversion on such topics is thought justifiable in the 
British nation, and by a British jury. I have in my hand the report 
of the trial of the printers of the Morning Chronicle, for a supposed 
libel against the state, and of their acquittal ; let me read to you 
some passages from that publication, which a jury of Englishmen 
were in vain called upon to brand with the name of a libel. 

" Claiming it as our indefeasible right to associate together, in a 
peaceable and friendly manner, for the communication of thoughts, 
the formation of opinions, and to promote the general happiness, we 
think it unnecessary to offer any apology for inviting you to join us 
in this manly and benevolent pursuit ; the necessity of the inhabitants 
of every community endeavouring to procure a true knowledge of 
their rights, their duties, and their interests, will not be denied, except 
by those who are the slaves of prejudice, or the interested in the 
continuation of abuses. As men who wish to aspire to the title of 
freemen, we totally deny the wisdom and the humanity of the advice, 
to approach the defects of government with " pious awe and trembling 
solicitude." What better doctrine could the pope or the tyrants of 
Europe desire ? We think, therefore, that the cause of truth and 
justice can never be hurt by temperate and honest discussions ; and 
that cause which will not bear such a scrutiny, must be systematically 
or practically bad. We are sensible that those who are not friends 
to the general good, have attempted to inflame the public mind with 
the cry of " Danger," whenever men have associated for discussing 
the principles of government, and we have little doubt but such 
conduct will be pursued in this place ; we would therefore caution 
every honest man, who has really the welfare of the nation at heart, 
to avoid being led away by the prostituted clamours of those who live 



on the sources of corruption. We pity the fears of the timorous, 
and we are totally unconcerned respecting the false alarms of the 


"We view with concern the frequency of wars. — We are 

persuaded that the interests of the poor can never be promoted by 
accession of territory, when . bought at the expense of their labour 
and blood ; and we must say, in the language of a celebrated author-— 
u We, who are only the people, but who pay for wars with our 
substance and our blood, will not cease to tell kings," or governments, 
" that to them alone wars are profitable ; that the true and just 
conquests are those which each makes at home, by comforting the 
peasantry, by promoting agriculture and manufactories; by multiplying 
men, and the other productions of nature, then it is that kings 
may call themselves the image of God, whose will is perpetually 
directed to the creation of new beings. If they continue to make us 
fight and kill one another, in uniform, we will continue to write and 
speak, until nations shall be cured of this folly." — We are certain 
our present heavy burthens are owing, in a great measure to cruel 
and impolitic wars, and therefore we will do all on our part, as 
peaceable citizens who have the good of the community at heart, to 
enlighten each other, and protest against them. 

" The present state of the representation of the people, calls for 
the particular attention of every man who has humanity sufficient to 
feel for the honour and happiness of his country ; to the defects and 
corruptions of which we are inclined to attribute unnecessary wars, 
&c. &e. We think it a deplorable case when the poor must support 
a corruption which is calculated to oppress them ; when the labourer 
must give his money to afford the means of preventing him having a 
voice in its disposal ; when the lower classes may say — " We give 
you our money, for which we have toiled and sweat, and which would 
save our families from cold and hunger ; but we think it more hard 
that there is nobody whom we have delegated, to see that it is not 
improperly and wickedly spent ; we have none to watch over our 
interests ; the rich only are represented." 

" An equal and uncorrupt representation would, we are per- 
suaded, save us from heavy expences, and deliver us from many 
oppressions, we will therefore do our duty to procure this reform, 
which appears to us of the utmost importance." 

" In short we see with the most lively concern, an army of placemer, 
pensioners, &c, fighting in the cause of corruption and prejudice, and 
spreading the contagion far and wide." 

" We see with equal sensibility the present outcry against 

reforms, and ^l proclamation (tending to cramp the liberty of the 
press, and discredit the true friends of the people) receiving the 
support of numbers of our countrymen." 

" We see burdens multiplied — the lower classes sinking into 

poverty, disgrace, and excesses, and the means of these shocking 
abuses increased for the purposes of revenue." 

u We ask ourselves — " Are we in England ?" — Have our 

forefathers fought, bled, and conquered for liberty? And did they 
not think that the fruits of their patriotism would be more abundant 
in peace, plenty, and happiness ?" 


" Is the condition of the poor never to be improved ? Great 

Britain must have arrived at the highest degree of national happiness 
and prosperity, and our situation must be too good to be mended, or 
the present outcry against reforms and improvements is inhuman and 
criminal. But we hope our condition will be speedily improved, and 
to obtain so desirable a good is the object of our present association ; 
an union founded on principles of benevolence and humanity ; dis- 
claiming all connection with riots and disorder, but firm in our purpose, 
and warm in our affections for liberty. 

"Lastly — We invite the Mends of freedom throughout Great 
Britain to form similar societies, and to act with unanimity and 
firmness, till the people be too wise to be imposed upon ; and their 
influence in the government be commensurate with their dignity and 
importance. u Then ghall we ^ free ftnd happy » 

Such, gentlemen, is the language, which a subject of Great 
Britain thinks himself warranted to hold, and upon such language 
has the corroborating sanction of a British jury been stamped by a 
verdict of acquittal. Such was the honest and manly freedom of 
publication, in a country too where the complaint of abuses has not 
half the foundation it has here. I said I loved to look to England for 
principles of judicial example, I cannot but say to you that it depends 
on your spirit whether I shall look to it hereafter with sympathy or 
with shame. Be pleased now, gentlemen, to consider whether the 
statement of the imperfection in your representation, has been made 
with a desire of inflaming an attack upon the public tranquillity, or 
with an honest purpose of procuring a remedy for an actually existing 

It is impossible not to revert to the situation of the times, and let 
me remind you that whatever observations of this kind I am compelled 
thus to make in a court of justice, the uttering of them in this place 
is not imputable to my client, but the necessity of defence imposed 
upon him by this extraordinary prosecution. 

Gentlemen, the representation of your people is the vital principle 
of their political existence, without it they are dead, or they live 
only to servitude ; without it there are two estates acting upon and 
against the third, instead of acting in co-operation with it ; without 
it, if the people are oppressed by their judges, where is the tribunal 
to which their judges can be amenable? Without it, if they are 
trampled upon and plundered by a minister, where is the tribunal to 
which the offender shall be amenable ? Without it, where is the 
ear to hear, or the heart to feel, or the hand to redress their sufferings ? 
Shall they be found, let me ask you, in the accursed* band of imps 
and minions that bask in their disgrace, and fatten upon their spoils, 
and flourish upon their ruin ? But let me not put this to you as a 
merely speculative question. It is a plain question of fact ; rely 
upon it, physical man is every where the same, it is only the various 
operation of moral causes that gives variety to the social or individual 
character and condition. How happens it that modern slavery looks 
quietly at the despot, on the very spot where Leonidas expired? 
The answer is easy, Sparta has not changed her climate, but she has 
lost that government which her liberty could not survive. 


I call you, therefore, to the plain question of fact; this paper 
recommends a reform in parliament; 1 put that question to jour 
consciences, do jou think it needs that reform ? I put it boldly and 
fairly to you, do you think the people of Ireland are represented as 
they ought to be ? Do you hesitate for an answer ? If you do, let 
me remind you that until the last year three millions of your country- 
men have by the express letter of the law been excluded from the 
reality of actual, and even from the phantom of virtual representation. 
Shall we then be told that this is only the affirmation of a wicked 
and seditious incendiary ? If you do not feel the mockery of such a 
charge, look at your country, in what state do you find it ? Is it in 
a state of tranquillity and general satisfaction ? These are traces by 
which good is ever to be distinguished from bad government. Without 
any very minute enquiry or speculative refinement ; do you feel that 
a veneration for the law, a pious and humble attachment to the con* 
stitution, form the political morality of your people ? Do you find 
that comfort and competency among your people, which are always 
to be found where a government is mild and moderate ; where taxes 
are imposed by a body who have an interest in treating the poorer 
orders with compassion, and preventing the weight of taxation from 
pressing sore upon them ? 

Gentlemen, I mean not to impeach the state of your representation, 
I am not saying that it is defective, or that it ought to be altered or 
amended, nor is this a place for me to say, whether I think that 
three millions of the inhabitants of a country whose whole number is 
but four, ought to be admitted into any efficient situation in the state ; 
it may be said, and truly, these are not questions for either of us 
directly to decide ; but you cannot refuse them some passing conside- 
ration at least, when you remember that on this subject the real 
question for your decision is, whether the allegation of a defect in 
your constitution is so utterly unfounded and false, that you can 
ascribe it only to the malice and perverseness of a wicked mind, and 
not to the innocent mistake of an ordinary understanding ; whether it 
cannot be mistake ; whether it can be only sedition. 

And here, gentlemen, I own I cannot but regret, that one of our 
countrymen should be criminally pursued for asserting the necessity 
of a reform, at the moment when that necessity seems admitted by 
the parliament itself; that this unhappy reform shall at the same 
moment be a subject of legislative discussion, and criminal prosecu- 
tion ; far am I from imputing any sinister design to the virtue or 
wisdom of our government, but who can avoid feeling the deplorable 
impression that must be made on the public mind, when the demand 
for that reform is answered by a criminal information ? 

I am the more forcibly impressed by this concern, when I consider 
that when this information was first put upon the file, the subject was 
transiently mentioned in the House of Commons. Some circumstances 
retarded the progress of the inquiry there ; and the progress of the 
information was equally retarded here. The first day of this session 
you all know, that subject was again brought forward in the House 
of Commons, and as if they had slept together, this prosecution was 
also revived in the Court of King's Bench ; and that before a jury, 
taken from a pannel partly composed of those very members of par- 


liament, who, in the House of Commons, must debate upon this 
subject as a measure of public advantage, which they might have here 
to consider as a public crime.* 

This paper, gentlemen, insists upon the necessity of emancipating 
the Catholics of Ireland, and that is charged as part of the libeL If 
they had waited another year, if they had kept this prosecution im- 
pending another year, how much would remain for a jury to decide 
upon, I should be at a loss to discover. It seems as if the progress of 
public reformation was eating away the ground of the prosecution. 
Since the commencement of the prosecution, this part of the libel has 
unluckily received the sanction of the legislature. In that interval 
our Catholic brethren have obtained that admission, which it seems 
it was a libel to propose : in what way to account for this, I am really 
at a loss. Have any alarms been occasioned by the emancipation of 
our Catholic brethren ? Has the bigotted malignity of any individuals 
been crushed ? Or has the stability of the government, or has that of 
the country been weakened ? Or is one million of subjects stronger 
than four millions ? Do you think that the benefit they received 
should be poisoned by the sting of vengeance ? If you think so, you 
must say to them, " you have demanded emancipation and you have 
got it ; but we abhor your persons, we are outraged at your success ; 
and we will stigmatise by a criminal prosecution the relief which you 
have obtained from the voice of your country." I ask you, gentlemen, 
do you think as honest men, anxious for the public tranquillity, 
conscious that there are wounds not yet completely cicatrized, that you 
ought to speak this language at this time, to men who are too much 
disposed to think that in this very emancipation they have been saved 
from their own parliament by the humanity of their sovereign ? Or 
do you wish to prepare them for the revocation of these improvident 
concessions ? Do you think it wise or humane at this moment to 
insult them, by sticking up in a pillory the man who dared to stand 
forth their advocate ? I put it to your oaths, do you think, that a 
blessing of that kind, that a victory obtained by justice over bigotry 
and oppression, should have a stigma cast upon it by an ignominious 
sentence upon men bold and honest enough to propose that measure ? 
To propose the redeeming of religion from the abuses of the church, 
the reclaiming of three millions of men from bondage, and giving 
liberty to all who had a right to demand it ; giving, I say, in the so 
much censured words of this paper, giving " universal emancipa- 
tion !" I speak in the spirit of the British law, which makes liberty 
commensurate with and inseparable from British soil ; which proclaims 
even to the stranger and the sojourner, the moment he sets his foot 
upon British earth, that the ground on which he treads is holy, and 
consecrated by the Genius of universal emancipation. No matter 
in what language his doom may have been pronounced — no matter 
what complexion incompatible with freedom, an Indian or an African 
sun may have burnt upon him — no matter in what disastrous battle 
his liberty may have been cloven down — no matter with what solemnities 

* Among the names on the pannel were Right Hon. J. Ouffe, M.P. — Right Hon. 

D. Latoiiche, M.P Sir W. G. Newcomen, Bart. M.P J. Maxwell, M.P 

C. H. <\mte, M.P — Henry Bruen, M.P.— H. V. Brooke, M.P J. ReiUy, M.P. 

. — J. Pomerov, M.P. 



he may have been devoted upon the altar of slavery ; the first moment 
he touches the sacred soil of Britain, the altar and the god sink 
together in the dust ; his soul walks abroad in her own majesty ; his 
body swells beyond the measure of his chains, that burst from around 
him, and he stands redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled, by the 
irresistible Genius of universal emancipation. 

[Here Mr. Curran was interrupted by a sudden burst of applause 
from the court and hall, silence however was restored after some 
minutes, by the interposition of Lord Clonmel, who declared the great 
pleasure he felt himself, at the exertion of professional talents, but 
disapproved any intemperate expression of applause in a court of 

Mr. Curran then proceeded — Gentlemen, I am not such a fool, as 
to ascribe any effusion of this sort to any merit of mine. It is the 
mighty theme, and not the inconsiderable advocate, that can excite 
interest in the hearer ! What you hear is but the testimony which 
nature bears to her own character ; it is the effusion of her gratitude 
to that power, which stampt that character upon her. 

And, gentlemen, permit me to say, that if my client had occasion 
to defend his cause by any mad or drunken appeals to extravagance 
or licentiousness, I trust in God I stand in that situation, that humble 
as I am, he would not have resorted to me to be his advocate. I was 
not recommended to his choice by any connexion of principle or 
party, or even private friendship, and saying this I cannot but add, 
that I consider not to be acquainted with such a man as Mr. Rowan, 
a want of personal good fortune. 

Gentlemen, upon this great subject of reform and emancipation, 
there is a latitude and boldness of remark, justifiable in the people, 
and necessary to the defence of Mr. Rowan, for which the habits of 
professional studies, and technical adherence to established forms, have 
rendered me unfit. It is however my duty, standing here as his 
advocate, to make some few observations to you, which I conceive to 
be material. 

Gentlemen, you are sitting in a country, which has a right to the 
British constitution, and which is bound by an indissoluble union 
with the British nation. If you were now even at liberty to debate 
upon that subject ; if you even were not by the most solemn 
compacts, founded upon the authority of your ancestors and of 
yourselves, bound to that alliance, and had an election now to make ; 
in the present unhappy state of Europe, if you had been heretofore a 
stranger to Great Britain, you would now say, we will enter into 
society and union with you ; 

Una salus ambobus erit, commune periclum ; 
But to accomplish that union let me tell you, you must learn to 
become like the English people ; it is vain to say, you will protect 
their freedom if you abandon your own. The pillar whose base has 
no foundation, can give no support to the dome under which its head 
is placed, and if you profess to give England that assistance which 
you refuse to yourselves, she will laugh at your folly, and despise 
your meanness and insincerity. Let us follow this a little further, I 
know you will interpret what I say with the candour in which it is 
spoken. England is marked by a natural avarice of freedom, which 


she is studious to engross and accumulate, but most unwilling to 
impart, whether from any necessity of her policy, or from her weak- 
ness, or from her pride, I will not presume to say, but that so is the 
fact, you need not look to the East, or to the West, you need only 
look to yourselves. 

-In order to confirm that observation, I would appeal to what fell 
from the learned counsel for the crown, that notwithstanding the 
alliance subsisting for two centuries past, between the two countries, 
the date of liberty in one goes no further back than the year 1784. 

If it required additional confirmation, I should state the case of 
the invaded American, and the subjugated Indian, to prove that the 
policy of England has ever been to govern her connexions more as 
colonies, than as allies ; and it must be owing to the great spirit 
indeed of Ireland if she shall continue free. Rely upon it she will 
ever have to hold her course against an adverse current; rely upon it 
if the popular spring does not continue strong and elastic, rely upon 
it, a short interval of debilitated nerve and broken force will send you 
down the stream again, and reconsign you to the condition of a 

If such should become the fate of your constitution, ask yourselves 
what must be the motive of your government ? It is easier to govern 
a province by a faction, than to govern a co-ordinate country by 
co-ordinate means. I do not say it is now, but it will be always 
thought easiest by the managers of the day, to govern the Irish 
nation by the agency of such a faction, as long as this country shall 
be found willing to let her connection with Great Britain be preserved 
only by her own degradation. In such a precarious and wretched 
state of things, if it shall ever be found to exist, the true friend of 
Irish liberty, and British connexion, will see, that the only means of 
saving both must be, as Lord Chatham expressed it, the infusion of 
new health and blood into the constitution. He will see how deep a 
stake each country has in the liberty of the other ; he will see what a 
bulwark he adds to the common cause, by giving England a 
co-ordinate, and co-interested ally, instead of an oppressed, enfeebled 
and suspected dependant ; he will see how grossly the credulity of 
Britain is abused by those, who make her believe that her solid 
interest is promoted by our depression; he will see the desperate 
precipice to which she approaches by such a conduct, and with 
an animated and generous piety he will labour to avert her danger. 
But, gentlemen of the jury, what is likely to be his fate? The 
interest of the sovereign must be for ever the interest of the people, 
because his interest lives beyond his life, it must live in his fame, it 
! must live in the tenderness of his solicitude for an unborn posterity ; 

i it must live in that heart-attaching bond by which millions of men 

I have united the destinies of themselves and their children with his, 

j and call him by the endearing appellation of king and father of his 


But what can be the interest of such a government as I have 
described ? Not the interest of the king, not the interest of the 
people, but the sordid interest of the hour ; the interest in deceiving 
the one, and in oppressing and deforming the other: the interest 
of unpunished rapine and unmerited favour : that odious and abject 


interest, that prompts them to extinguish public spirit in punishment 
or in bribe ; and to pursue every man, even to death, who has sense to 
see, and integrity and firmness enough to abhor and to oppose them. 
What therefore I say, gentlemen, will be the state of, who 
embarks in an enterprise of so much difficulty and danger ? I will 
not answer it. Upon that hazard has my client put everything that 
can be dear to man ; — his fame, his fortune, his person, his liberty and 
his children ; but with what event your verdict only can answer, and 
to that I refer your country. 

Gentlemen, there is a fourth point remaining. Says this paper, 
"For both these purposes, it appears necessary that provincial 
conventions should assemble preparatory to the convention of the 
Protestant people. The delegates of the Catholic body are not justified 
in communicating with individuals, or even bodies of inferior 
authority, and therefore an assembly of a similar nature and organ- 
ization, is necessary to establish an intercourse of sentiment, an 
uniformity of conduct, an united cause and an united nation. If a 
convention on the one part does not soon follow, and is not soon 
connected with that on the other, the common cause will split into 
the partial interest ; the people will relax into inattention and inert- 
ness; the union of affection and exertion will dissolve, and too 
probably some local insurrection, instigated by the malignity of our 
common enemy, may commit the character and risque the tranquillity 
of the island, which can be obviated only by the influence of an 
assembly arising from, assimilated with the people, and whose spirit 
may be, as it were, knit with the soul of the nation, unless the sense 
of the Protestant people be on their part as fairly collected and as 
judiciously directed, unless individual exertion consolidates into col- 
lective strength, unless the particles unite into mass, we may perhaps 
serve some person or some party for a little, but the public not at all; 
the nation is neither insolent, nor rebellious, nor seditious ; while it 
knows its rights, it is unwilling to manifest its powers; it would 
rather supplicate administration to anticipate revolution by well-timed 
reform, and to save their country in mercy to themselves." 

Gentlemen, it is with something more than common reverence, it is 
with a species of terror that I am obliged to tread this ground. But 
what is the idea put in the strongest point of view. We are willing 
not to manifest our powers, but to supplicate administration, to 
anticipate revolution, that the legislature may save the country 
in mercy to itself. 

Let me suggest to you, gentlemen, that there are some circum- 
stances which have happened in the history of this country, that may 
better serve as a comment upon this part of the case than any I can 
make. I am not bound to defend Mr. Rowan as to the truth or 
wisdom of the opinions he may have formed. But if he did really 
conceive the situation of the country such as that the not redressing 
her grievances might lead to a convulsion, and of such an opinion 
not even Mr. Rowan is answerable here for the wisdom, much less 
shall I insinuate any idea of my own upon so awful a subject, but if 
he did so conceive the fact to be, and acted from the fair and honest 
suggestion of a mind anxious for the public good, I must confess, 
gentlemen, I do not know in what part of the British constitution to 
find the principle of his criminality. 


But, gentlemen, be pleased further to consider, that he cannot be 
understood to put the fact on which he argues on the authority of 
his assertion. The condition of Ireland was open to the observation 
of every other man as to that of Mr. Rowan ; what then does this 
part of the publication amount to ? In my mind simply to this : "the 
nature of oppression in all countries is such, that although it may be 
borne to a certain degree, it cannot be borne beyond that degree ; you 
find it exemplified in Great Britain ; you find the people of England 
patient to a certain point, but patient no longer. That infatuated 
monarch, James IL, experienced this ; the time did come, when the 
measure of popular suffering and popular patience was full ; when 
a single drop was sufficient to make the waters of bitterness to 
overflow. I think this measure in Ireland is brimful at present; 
I think the state of misrepresentation of the people in parliament is 
a grievance, I think the utter exclusion of three millions of people is 
a grievance of that kind that the people are not likely long to endure, 
and the continuation of which may plunge the country into that state 
of despair which wrongs exasperated by perseverance never fail 
to produce." But to whom is even this language addressed ? Not to 
the body of the people, on whose temper and moderation if once 
excited, perhaps not much confidence could be placed ; but to that 
authoritative body whose influence and power would have restrained 
the excesses of the irritable and tumultuous ; and for that purpose 
expressly does this publication address the Volunteers. " We are 
told that we are in danger; — I call upon you, the great constitutional 
saviours of Ireland, defend the country to which you have given 
political existence, and use whatever sanction your great name, your 
sacred character, and the weight you have in the community, must 
give you to repress wicked designs, if any there are. 

" We feel ourselves strong, the people are always strong, the public 
chains can only be rivetted by the public hands ; look to those 
devoted regions of Southern despotism, behold the expiring victim on 
his knees, presenting the javelin reeking with his blood to the fero- 
cious monster who returns it into his heart. Call not that monster 
the tyrant, he is no more than the executioner of that inhuman 
tyranny which the people practice upon themselves, and of which he 
is only reserved to be a later victim than the wretch he has sent before. 
Look to a nearer country, where the sanguinary characters are more 
legible ; whence you almost hear the groans of death and torture. 
Do you ascribe the rapine and murder of France to the few names 
that we are execrating here ? or do you not see that it is the phrenzy 
of an infuriated multitude abusing its own strength, and practising 
those hideous abominations upon itself. Against the violence of this 
strength let your virtue and influence be our safeguard." "What 
criminality, gentlemen of the jury, can you find in this? what at any 
time? But I ask you, peculiarly at this momentous period, what 
guilt can you find in it ? My client saw the scene of horror and 
blood which covers almost the face of Europe : he feared that causes, 
which he thought similar, might produce similar effects, and he seeks 
to avert those dangers by calling the united virtue and tried 
moderation of the country into a state of strength and vigilance. Yet 
this is the conduct which the prosecution of this day seeks to punish 



and stigmatize. And this is the language for which this paper is repro- 
bated to-day, as tending to turn the hearts of the people against their 
sovereign, and inviting them to overturn the constitution. Let us 
now, gentlemen, consider the concluding part of this publication ; it 
recommends a meeting of the people to deliberate on constitutional 
methods of redressing grievances. Upon this subject I am inclined 
to suspect that I have in my youth taken up crude ideas, not founded, 
perhaps, in law ; but I did imagine that when the bill of rights re- 
stored the right of petitioning for the redress of grievances, it was 
understood the people might boldly state among themselves that 
grievances did exist ; that they might lawfully assemble themselves in 
such manner as they might deem orderly and decorous. I thought 1 
had collected it from the greatest luminaries of the law. The power 
of petitioning seemed to rae to imply the right of assembling for the 
purpose of deliberation. The law requiring a petition to be pre- 
sented by a limited number, seemed to me to admit that the petition 
might be prepared by any number whatever, provided, in doing so, 
they did not commit any breach or violation of the public peace. I 
know that there has been a law passed in the Irish parliament of last 
year, which may bring my former opinion into a merited want of 
authority. That law declares that no body of men may delegate a 
power to any smaller number, to act, think, or to petition for them. 
If that law had not passed I should have thought that the assembling 
by a delegated convention was recommended, in order to avoid the 
tumult and disorder of a promiscuous assembly of the whole mass of 
the people. I should have conceived before that act that any law to 
abridge the orderly appointment of the few to consult for the interest 
of the many, and thus force the many to consult by themselves or not 
at all, would in fact be a law not to restrain but to promote insurrec- 
tion, but that law has spoken and my error must stand corrected. Of 
this, however, let me remind you, you are to try this part of the 
publication by what the law was then, and by what it is now. How 
was it understood until last session of parliament ? You had both in 
England and Ireland, for the last ten years, these delegated meetings. 
The Volunteers of Ireland, in 1782, met by delegation ; they framed 
a plan of parliamentary reform ; they presented it to the representative 
wisdom of the nation ; it was not received, but no man ever dreamed 
that it was not the undoubted right of the subject to assemble in that 
manner. They assembled by delegation at Dungannon, and to shew 
the idea then entertained of the legality of their public conduct, that 
same body of Volunteers was thanked by both houses of parliament, 
and their delegates most graciously received at the throne. The other 
day, you had delegated representatives of the Catholics of Ireland, 
publicly elected by the members of that persuasion, and sitting in 
convention in the heart of your capital, carrying on an actual treaty 
with the existing government, and under the eye of your own par- 
liament, which was then assembled; you have seen the delegates 
from that convention, carry the complaints of their grievances to the 
foot of the throne ; from whence they brought back to that convention, 
the auspicious tidings of that redress which they had been refused at 

Such, gentlemen, have been the means of popular communication 


and discussion, which until the last session have been deemed legal 
in this country ; as happily for the sister kingdom, they are yet con- 
sidered there. 

I do not complain of this act as any infraction of popular liberty ; 
I should not think it becoming in me to express any complaint against 
a law, when once become such. 1 observe only, that one mode of 
popular deliberation is thereby taken utterly away, and you are 
reduced to a situation in which you never stood before. You are 
living in a country, where the constitution is rightly stated to be 
only ten years old ; where the people have not the ordinary rudiments 
of education. It is a melancholy story, that the lower orders of the 
people here have less means of being enlightened than the same class 
of people in any other country. If there be no means left by which 
public measures can be canvassed, what will be the consequence ? 
Where the press is free, and discussion unrestrained, the mind by the 
collision of intercourse, gets rid of its own asperities, a sort of in- 
sensible perspiration takes place, by which those acrimonies, which 
would otherwise fester and inflame, are quietly dissolved and dissipated. 
But now, if any aggregate assembly shall meet, they are censured ; 
if a printer publishes their resolutions he is punished ; rightly to be 
sure in both cases, for it has been lately done. If the people say, let 
us not create tumult, but meet in delegation, they cannot do it ; if 
they are anxious to promote parliamentary reform, in that way, they 
cannot do it ; the law of the last session has for the first time declared 
such meetings to be a crime. What then remains ? Only the liberty 
of the press, that sacred palladium, which no influence, no power, no 
minister, no government, which nothing but the depravity, or folly, 
or corruption of a jury, can ever destroy. And what calamity are 
the people saved from, by having public communication left open to 
them ? I will tell you, gentlemen, what they are saved from, and 
what the government is saved from ; I will tell you also, to what 
both are exposed by shutting up that communication ; in one case 
sedition speaks aloud, and walks abroad ; the demagogue goes forth, 
the public eye is upon him, he frets his busy hour upon the stage, but 
soon either weariness, or bribe, or punishment, or disappointment 
bears him down, or drives him off, and he appears no more ; in the 
other case, how does the work of sedition go forward ? Night after 
night the muffled rebel steals forth in the dark, and casts another 
and another brand upon the pile, to which, when the hour of fatal 
maturity shall arrive, he will apply the flame. If you doubt of the 
horrid consequences of suppressing the effusion even of individual 
discontent, look to those enslaved countries where the protection of 
despotism is supposed to be secured by such restraints, even the 
person of the despot there is never in safety. Neither the fears of 
the despot, nor the machinations of the slave have any slumber, the 
one anticipating the moment of peril, the other watching the oppor- 
tunity of aggression. The fatal crisis is equally a surprise upon 
both ; the decisive instant is precipitated without warning, by folly 
on the one side or by frenzy on the other, and there is no notice of 
the treason till the traitor acts. In those unfortunate countries (one 
cannot read it without horror) there are officers whose province it is, 
to have the water, which is to be drank by their rulers, sealed up in 



bottles, lest some wretched miscreant should throw poison into the 

But, gentlemen, if you wish for a nearer and more interesting 
example, you have it in the history of your own revolution ; you have 
it at that memorable period, when the monarch found a servile 
acquiescence in the ministers of his folly, when the liberty of the 
press was trodden under foot, when venal sheriffs returned packed 
juries to cany into effect those fatal conspiracies of the few against 
the many; when the devoted benches of public justice were filled by 
some of those foundlings of fortune, who, overwhelmed in the torrent 
of corruption at an early period, lay at the bottom like drowned bodies, 
while soundness or sanity remained in them ; but at length becoming 
buoyant by putrefaction, they rose as they rotted, and floated to the 
surface of the polluted stream, where they were drifted along, the 
objects of terror, and contagion and abomination. 

In that awful moment of a nation's travail, of the last gasp of 
tyranny, and the first breath of freedom, how pregnant is the example ? 
The press extinguished, the people enslaved, and the prince undone. 

As the advocate of society, therefore, of peace, of domestic liberty, 
and the lasting union of the two countries, I conjure you to guard the 
liberty of the press, that great centinel of the state, that grand 
detector of public imposture : guard it, because when it sinks, there 
sinks with it, in one common grave, the liberty of the subject and the 
security of the crown. 

Gentlemen, I am glad that this question has not been brought 
forward earlier ; I rejoice for the sake of the court, of the jury, and 
of the public repose, that this question has not been brought forward 
till now. In Great Britain analogous circumstances have taken place. 
At the commencement of that unfortunate war which has deluged 
Europe with blood, the spirit of the English people was tremblingly 
alive to the terror of French principles ; at that moment of general 
paroxysm, to accuse was to convict. The danger looked larger to 
the public eye, from the misty medium through which it was surveyed. 
We measure inaccessible heights by the shadows which they project ; 
where the lowness and the distance of the light form the length of 
the shade. 

There is a sort of spring, and adventurous credulity, which disdains 
assenting to obvious truths, and delights in catching at the im- 
probability of circumstances, as its best ground of faith. To what 
other cause, gentlemen, can you ascribe that in the wise, the reflecting 
and the philosophic nation of Great Britain, a printer has been 
gravely found guilty of a libel, for publishing those resolutions, to 
which the present minister of that kingdom had actually subscribed 
his name ? To what other cause can you ascribe, what in my mind 
is still more astonishing, in such a country as Scotland, a nation cast 
in the happy medium between the spiritless acquiescence of submissive 
poverty, and the sturdy credulity of pampered wealth; cool and 
ardent, adventurous and persevering ; winning her eagle flight against 
the blaze of every science, with an eye that never winks, and a wing 
that never tires ; crowned as she is with the spoils of every art, and 
decked with the wreath of every muse ; from the deep and scrutinizing 
researches of her Hume, to the sweet and simple, but not less sublime 


and pathetic morality of her Burns — how from the bosom of a country 
like that, genius and character, and talents, should be banished to a 
distant barbarous soil ; condemned to pine under the horrid com- 
munion of vulgar vice and base-born profligacy, for twice the period 
that ordinary calculation gives to human life ? But I will not further 
press any idea that is painful to me, and I am sure must be painful to 
you : I will only say, you have now an example, of which neither 
England nor Scotland had the advantage ; you have the example of 
the panic, the infatuation and the contrition of both. It is now for 
you to decide whether you will profit by their experience of idle 
panic and idle regret, or whether you meanly prefer to palliate a 
servile imitation of their frailty, by a paltry affectation of their 
repentance. It is now for you to shew that you are not carried away 
by the same hectic delusions, to acts, of which no tears can wash 
away the fatal consequences, or the indelible reproach. 

Gentlemen, I have been warning you by instances of public 
intellect suspended or obscured; let me rather excite you by the 
example of that intellect recovered and restored. In that case which 
Mr. Attorney General has cited himself, I mean that of the trial of 
Lambert in England, is there a topic of invective against constituted 
authorities; is there a topic of abuse against every department of 
British government, that you do not find in the most glowing and 
unqualified terms in that publication, for which the printer of it was 
prosecuted, and acquitted by an English jury ? See too what a 
difference there is between the case of a man publishing his own 
opinion of facts, thinking that he is bound by duty to hazard the 
promulgation of them, and without the remotest hope of any personal 
advantage, and that of a man who makes publication his trade. And 
saying this let me not be misunderstood ; it is not my province to 
enter into any abstract defence of the opinions of any man upon 
public subjects. I do not affirmatively state to you that these 
grievances, which this paper supposes, do in fact exist ; yet I cannot 
but say, that the movers of this prosecution have forced that question 
upon you. Their motives and their merits, like those of all accusers, 
are put in issue before you ; and I need not tell you how strongly 
the motive and merits of any informer ought to influence the fate of 
his accusation. 

I agree most implicitly with Mr. Attorney General, that nothing 
can be more criminal than an attempt to work a change in the 
Government by armed force ; and I entreat that the court will not 
suffer any expression of mine to be considered as giving encourage- 
ment or defence to any design to excite disaffection, to overawe or to 
overturn the Government ; but I put my client's case upon another 
ground — if he was led into an opinion of grievances where there were 
none, if he thought there ought to be a reform where none was 
necessary, he is answerable only for his intention. He can be 
answerable to you in the same way only that he is answerable to that 
God before whom the accuser, the accused, and the judge must appear 
together, that is, not for the clearness of his understanding, but for the 
purity of his heart. 

Gentlemen, Mr. Attorney General has said, that Mr. Rowan did 
by this publication (supposing it to l)e his) recommend, under the 


name of equality, a general indiscriminate assumption of public rule 
by every the meanest person in the state. Low as we are in point of 
public information, there is not, I believe, any man, who thinks for a 
moment, that does not know, that all which the great body of people, 
of any country, can have from any government, is a fair encourage- 
ment for their industry, and protection for the fruits of their labour. 
And there is scarcely any man, I believe, who does not know, that if 
a people could become so silly as to abandon their stations in society, 
under pretence of governing themselves, they would become the dupe > 
and the victims of their own folly. But does this publication recom- 
mend any such infatuated abandonment, or any such desperate 
assumption ? I will read the words which relate to that subject, — 
u By liberty we never understood unlimited freedom, nor by equality 
the levelling of property or the destruction of subordination." I ask 
you with what justice, upon what principle of common sense, you can 
charge a man for the publication of sentiments, the very reverse of 
what his words avow ? And that, when there is no collateral evidence, 
where there is no foundation whatever, save those very words, by 
which his meaning can be ascertained ? Or if you do adopt an arbitrary 
principle of imputing to him your meaning instead of his own, what 
publication can be guiltless or safe ? It is a sort of accusation that 
I am ashamed and sorry to see introduced into a court acting on the 
principles of the British constitution. 

In the bitterness of reproach it was said, ' out of thine own mouth 
will I condemn thee ;' from the severity of justice I demand no more. 
See if in the words that have been spoken, you can find matter to 
acquit, or to condemn. " By liberty we never understood unlimited 
freedom, nor by equality the levelling of property, or the destruction 
of subordination. This is a calumny invented by the faction or that 
gang, which misrepresents the king to the people, and the people to 
the king, traduces one half of the nation to cajole the other, and, by 
keeping up distrust and division, wishes to continue the proud arbi- 
trators of the fortune and fate of Ireland." Here you find that meaning 
disclaimed as a calumny, which is artfully imputed as a crime. 

I say therefore, gentlemen of the jury, as to the four parts into which 
the publication must be divided, I answer thus: it calls upon the 
Volunteers. Consider the time, the danger, the authority of the 
prosecutors themselves for believing that danger to exist, the high 
character, the known moderation, the approved loyalty of that vener- 
able institution, the similarity of the circumstances between the period 
at which they were summoned to take arms, and that in which they 
have been called upon to reassume them. Upon this simple ground, 
gentlemen, you will decide, whether this part of the publication was 
libellous and criminal or not. 

As to reform, I could wish to have said nothing upon it, I believe 
I have said enough ; if he thought the state required it, he acted like 
an honest man ; for the rectitude of the opinion he was not answerable, 
he discharged his duty in telling the country he thought so. 

As to the emancipation of the Catholics, I cannot but say that Mr. 
Attorney General did very wisely in keeping clear of that Yet, 
gentlemen, I need not tell you how important a figure it was intended 
to make upon the scene, though from unlucky accidents, it has become 
necessary to expunge it during the rehearsal. 


Of the concluding part of this publication, the convention which it 
recommends, I have spoken already. I wish not to trouble you with 
saying more upon it. I feel that I have already trespassed much upon 
your patience. In truth, upon a subject embracing such a variety of 
topics, a rigid observance either of conciseness or arrangement could 
perhaps scarcely be expected. It is, however, with pleasure I feel I 
am drawing to a close, and that only one question remains, to which 
I would beg your attention. 

Whatever, gentlemen, may be your opinion of the meaning of this 
publication, there yet remains a great point for you to decide upon : 
namely, whether, in point of fact, this publication be imputable to Mr. 
Rowan or not ? Whether he did publish it or not ? And two wit- 
nesses are called to that fact, one of the name of Lyster, and the other 
of the name of Morton. You must have observed that Morton gave 
no evidence upon which that paper could have even been read ; he 
produced no paper, he identified no paper, he said that he got some 
paper, but that he had given it away. So that, in point of law, there 
was no evidence given by him, on which it could have gone to a jury, 
and, therefore, it turns entirely upon the evidence of the other witness. 
He has stated that he went to a public meeting, in a place where there 
was a gallery crowded with spectators ; and that he there got a printed 
paper, the same which has been read to you. I know you are well 
acquainted with the fact, that the credit of every witness must be 
considered by, and rest with the jury. They are the sovereign judges 
of that, and I will not insult your feelings, by insisting on the caution 
with which you should watch the testimony of a witness that seeks to 
affect the liberty, or property, or character of your fellow citizens. 
Under what circumstances does this evidence come before you ? The 
witness says he has got a commission in the army by the interest of a 
lady, from a person then high in administration. He told you that he 
made a memorandum upon the back of that paper, it being his general 
custom, when he got such papers, to make an endorsement upon them ; 
that he did this from mere fancy ; that he had no intention of giving 
any evidence upon the subject ; he " took it with no such view." There 
is something whimsical in this curious story. Put his credit upon the 
positive evidence adduced to his character. Who he is I know not, I 
know not the man; but his credit is impeached. Mr. Blake was 
called, he said he knew him. I asked him — " do you think, Sir, that 
Mr. Lyster is or is not a man deserving credit upon his oath ?" If 
you find a verdict of conviction, it can be only upon the credit 
of Mr. Lyster. What said Mr. Blake ? Did he tell you that he 
believed he was a man to be believed upon his oath? He did 
not attempt to say that he was. The best he could say was, that he 
would hesitate. Do you believe Blake ? Have you the same opinion 
of Lyster's testimony that Mr. Blake has ? Do you know Lyster? If 
you do know him, and know that he is credible, your knowledge should 
not be shaken by the doubts of any man. But if you do not know 
him, you must take his credit from an unimpeached witness, swearing 
that he would hesitate to believe him. In my mind there is a circum- 
stance of the strongest nature that came out from Lyster on the table. 
I am aware that a most respectable man, if impeached by surprise, 
may not bo prepared to rejK*l a wanton calumny by contrary testimony. 


But was Lyster unapprised of this attack upon him ? What said he? 
a I knew that you had Blake to examine against me, you have brought 
him here for that purpose." He knew the very witness that was to 
be produced against him, he knew that his credit was impeached, and 
yet he produced no person to support that credit. What said Mr. 
Smyth, u From my knowledge of him I would not believe him upon 
his oath." 

Mr. Attorney-Generax. — I beg pardon but I must set Mr. Curran 
right. Mr. Lyster said he had heard Blake would be here, but not 
in time to prepare himself. 

Mr. Curran, — But what said Mrs. Hatchell ? Was the production 
of that witness a surprise upon Mr. Lyster ? Her cross-examination 
shews the fact to be the contrary. The learned counsel, you see, was 
perfectly apprised of a chain of private circumstances, to which he 
pointed his questions. Did he know these circumstances, by inspira- 
tion ? No; they could come only from Lyster himself. I insist, 
therefore, the gentleman knew his character was to be impeached; his 
counsel knew it, and not a single witness has been produced to support 
it ; then consider, gentlemen, upon what ground you can find a verdict 
of conviction against my client, when the only witness produced to 
the fact of publication is impeached, without even an attempt to defend 
his character. Many hundreds, he said, were at the meeting, why not 
produce one of them to swear to the fact of such a meeting ? One he 
has ventured to name, but he was certainly very safe in naming a 
person, who he has told you is not in the kingdom, and could not 
therefore be called to confront him. 

Gentlemen, let me suggest another observation or two. If still you 
have any doubt as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant, give me 
leave to suggest to you what circumstances you ought to consider, in 
order to found your verdict : You should consider the character of the 
person accused, and in this your task is easy. I will venture to say, 
there is not a man in this nation, more known than the gentleman 
who is the subject of this prosecution, not only by the part he has 
taken in public concerns, and which he has taken in common with 
many, but still more so, by that extraordinary sympathy for human 
affliction, which, I am sorry to think, he shares with so small a number. 
There is not a day that you hear the cries of your starving manufac- 
turers in your streets, that you do not also see the advocate of their 
sufferings — that you do not see his honest and manly figure, with 
uncovered head, soliciting for their relief, searching the frozen heart 
of charity, for every string that can be touched by compassion, and 
urging the force of every argument and every motive, save that which 
his modesty suppresses — the authority of his own generous example. 
Or if you see him not there, you may trace his steps to the private 
abode of disease, and famine, and despair, the messenger of heaven, 
bearing with him food and medicine and consolation. Are these the 
materials, of which you suppose anarchy and public rapine to be 
formed? Is this the man, on whom to fasten the abominable 
charge of goading on a frantic populace to mutiny and bloodshed ? 
Is this the man likely to apostatize from every principle that 
can bind him to the state ; his birth, his property, his education, 
his character, and his children ? Let me tell you, gentlemen of the 


jury, that if you agree with his prosecutors, in thinking that there ought 
to be a sacrifice of such a man, on such an occasion, and upon the 
credit of such evidence, you are to convict him — never did you, never 
can you give a sentence, consigning any man to public punishment 
with less danger to his person or to his fame : for where could the 
hireling be found to fling contumely or ingratitude at his head, whose 
private distresses he had not laboured to alleviate, or whose public 
condition he had not laboured to improve. 

I cannot, however, avoid adverting to a circumstance that distin- 
guishes the case of Mr. Rowan, from that of a late sacrifice in a 
neighbouring kingdom. 

The severer law of that country, it seems, and happy for them that 
it should, enables them to remove from their sight the victim of their 
infatuation ; — the more merciful spirit of our law deprives you of that 
consolation ; his sufferings must remain for ever before your eyes, a 
continual call upon your shame and your remorse. But those suffer- 
ings will do more ; they will not rest satisfied with your unavailing 
contrition, they will challenge the great and paramount inquest of 
society, the man will be weighed against the charge, the witness and 
the sentence ; and impartial justice will demand, why has an Irish 
jury done this deed ? The moment he ceases to be regarded as a 
criminal, he becomes of necessity an accuser ; and let me ask you, 
what can your most zealous defenders be prepared to answer to such 
a charge ? When your sentence shall have sent him forth to that 
stage, which guilt alone can render infamous ; let me tell you, he will 
not be like a little statue upon a mighty pedestal, diminishing by 
elevation ; but he will stand a striking and imposing object upon a 
monument, which, if it does not, and it cannot, record the atrocity of his 
crime, must record the atrocity of his conviction. And upon this sub- 
ject, credit me when I say, that I am still more anxious for you, than I 
can possibly be for him. I cannot but feel the peculiarity of your situa- 
tion. Not the j ury of his own choice — which the law of England allows, 
but which ours refuses — collected in that box by a person, certainly no 
friend to Mr. Rowan, certainly not very deeply interested in giving him 
a very impartial jury — feeling this, as I am persuaded you do, you cannot 
be surprised, however you may be distressed at the mournful presage, 
with which an anxious public is led to fear the worst from your possible 
determination. B ut I w ill not, for the j ustice and honour of our common 
country, suffer my mind to be borne away by such melancholy antici- 
pation, I will not relinquish the confidence that this day will be the 
period of his sufferings ; and, however mercilessly he has been hitherto 
pursued, that your verdict will send him home to the arms of his 
family, and the wishes of his country. But if, which heaven forbid, 
it hath still been unfortunately determined, that because he has not 
bent to power and authority, because he would not bow down before 
the golden calf and worship it, he is to be bound and cast into the 
furnace ; I do trust in God, that there is a redeeming spirit in the 
constitution, which will be seen to walk with the sufferer through the 
flames, and to preserve him unhurt by the conflagration. 

[After Mr. Curran had concluded, there was another universal 
burst of applause through the court and hall, for some minutes, which 
was again silenced by the interference of Lord Clonmel.] 




Mr. Attorney-Genebal. — M7 Lords, It is Mr. Prime Serjeant's 
duty to speak to the evidence, but as Mr. Curran has let fall some 
things to make an impression not merely upon those who surround us, 
I must be excused in stating some facts known to no human being but 
myself. It has been stated that this was an oppressive prosecution, 
and that oppression has been intended by the delay. Now, I do aver 
that the instructions he has received are false ; that I received no 
instructions of the kind from government, and no government could 
think of prevailing with me in such a measure. I feel within myself, 
that no man could ask me such a thing twice in the office I hold. 
Let the jury consider the fact as it is, let them consider the evidence, 
and God forbid ! they should be influenced by anything but the 
evidence. Mr. Curran states that oppression is practised — I am 
responsible to the court for my conduct here, and if I have carried on 
this prosecution with oppression, I am responsible to the country. 
Let this gentleman, if he thinks he has been oppressed, call me to 
punishment — let me be a disgrace in the eye of the country, and let 
me be driven from that profession, in which I have so long been 
honoured. The facts are these : — the accusation against Mr. Rowan 
was made in the month of December, 1792, he was arrested in Janu- 
ary following, and brought before Mr. Justice Downes and discharged 
upon bail. The information was filed in Hilary Term ; as soon as it 
was possible by the rules of the court, Mr. Rowan pleaded, and the 
venire issued, I do protest with a bona fide intention to try Mr. Rowan. 
After that, an error was found in the record, though it had been com- 
pared before ; the error was this ; in the record the words were " we 
would do" so and so ; in the publication it was "would we do" so and 
so. As soon as that was discovered, notice was given that the trial 
could not come forward, and the witnesses were dismissed. In Trinity 
Term, application was made to issue the veni re, and it appeared from 
the Recorder, that he was aware of the defects ; I am above conceal- 
ing anything, I admit he did offer to waive any objection to the error 
and go to trial directly. I asked Mr. Kemmis, " are the witnesses 
gone out of town" — "They are gone to Gal way." I was therefore 
obliged to refuse the offer, but entered a Noli prosequi and filed a new 
information. Mr. Rowan put his plea upon the file, and in Michaelmas 
Term I applied for a trial. There were several trials at bar appointed, 
and the court refused, in consequence of the business before them, to 
try it in that term ; and appointed it for this term. These are the 
facts I think it my duty to mention, and have no more to say upon 
the subject, but will leave the case entirely to the jury, whose verdict 
will not be influenced by such topics as have been thrown out. 

Mr. Curban. — Mr. Attorney, I could not know the circumstance 
you mention, of your witnesses being gone out of town. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — It was impossible you should.* 

* In the latter end of December, 1792, Mr. Rowan was arrested by virtue of 
Mr. Justice Downes's warrant, on a charge of distributing a seditious paper. — 
Mr. Justice Downes having assured Mr. Rowan, that the examinations, upon 
which the warrant was grounded, would be returned to the Clerk of the Crown, 
and that they would, he supposed, be in course by him laid before the next term 
grand jury, Mr. Rowan, instead of going to jail, in pursuance of his own opinion, 
followed the advice of his law friends, and gave bail for his appearance in the 


Mr. Prime Sergeant— Wearied and exhausted as you, my lords, 
and gentlemen of the jury, must be at this late hour, I yet feel it my 
duty to trespass a short time upon you, in a prosecution which the 
Attorney-General has been obliged to institute : Gentlemen, I say 
obliged, because prosecution is painful to him, as well as to those who 
act with him. The infliction of punishment is disagreeable to the 
court, but in our public duty these weaknesses must give way. 
There is justice due to the public ; my learned friend is the advocate 
of justice to the public, not of persecution against the defendant. 
There is no man, who recollects the period at which this publication 
came out, too notorious and shameful to be forgotten, who must not have 
thought it highly proper to bring the publisher to a legal triaL To 

Ring's Bench, to answer such charges as should be there made against him. Dur- 
ing the succeeding Hilary Term, Mr. Rowan daily attended in the King's Bench, 
and on the last day of that term, finding that no examinations had been laid be- 
fore the grand jury against him, he applied, by counsel, to the court, that the 
examinations should be forthwith returned, particularly as Mr. Attorney-General 
had, in the course of the term, filed two informations ex-officio against him, the 
one for the same alledged offence of distributing a seditious paper, and the other 
for a seditious conspiracy; whereupon, Mr. Justice Downes, who was on the 
bench, haying asserted that he had on the first day of the term, returned the ex- 
aminations to the Clerk of the Crown, and the Clerk of the Crown haying said 
that from the multiplicity of examinations returned to him on the first day of the 
term, in the course of the term, and even on that day, he had not had time to look 
them oyer, the court refused to make any order. Mr. Rowan daily attended the 
King's Bench in the following Easter Term, until the same was nearly spent, 
and finding that no bills were sent up to the Grand Jury against him, he moved the 
court, by counsel, that the recognizance entered into by him and his bail, should 
be vacated, and publicly declared that if this motion was not granted, he would 
surrender himself in discharge of his bail. The Attorney-General consenting, 
the motion was granted, and the recognizance was vacated. 

[It may not bo improper here to state, that the above examinations having 
charged Mr. James Mapper Tandy, with having distributed a seditious paper 
equally with Mr. Rowan, he likewise gave bail ; but not having appeared in court 
pursuant to his recognizance, it was estreated, green-wax process issued against 
the bail, and the amount of the recognizance levied from them, though no Dill of 
indictment, grounded on these examinations, was ever preferred against him, and 
though his absence was notoriously on another account. J 

In the above mentioned Easter Term, a motion was made, on behalf of Mr. 
Rowan, to fix certain days for trial of the informations filed ex-qfficio against him, 
and the Attorney-Goneral having agreed to the appointment of two days in the 
ensuing Trinity Term, viz. the 3d and 7th days of May, those days were accord- 
ingly appointed: for the purpose. However, in the Easter vacation, the Attorney- 
General served a notice on Mr. Rowan, that he would not proceed to trial on 
those days, and would apply to the court to appoint other days, grounded on an 
affidavit to be filed, of which notice would be given : nothing was done upon this 
notice, and no affidavit was filed, or motion made thereon, and the venire, the pro- 
cess necessary for impannelling juries on the days appointed, having been, after 
being issued, kept by Mr. Kemmis, the crown solicitor, instead of being delivered 
to the sheriff, a motion was made, on behalf of Mr. Rowan, in the last Trinity 
Term, that the venire should be delivered to the proper officer, in order, that the 
trials might be had on the days appointed, in case the court should not grant any 
motion the Attorney-General might make for postponing the trials. This motion 
was opposed by the Attorney-General — he declared, that there was error in the 
information for distributing a seditious paper. Mr. Rowan offered to agree to an 
immediate amendment of the information, or that a fresh one should be filed and 
pleaded to instanter, or that he would release all errors ; — all these offers were 
severally refused. The object of the Attorney-General appeared to be to post- 
pone the trials, and though only one of the informations was stated to be informal, 
yet the day appointed for the trial of the other, which was supposed to be formal, 


the exertions of government, at that time, it is to be attributed that 
the trial by jury still subsists among us, and that he has not been 
before now tried at another court; that the King's Bench has not 
been superseded by a Revolutionary Tribunal ; and that my learned 
friend has not, ere now, made room for the Public Accuser. The 
defendant must think it fortunate that he is tried according to 
established law, and defended by counsel of his own election, and 
before a jury, bound by a solemn appeal to God, to find according to 
the evidence given to them, notwithstanding that disgraceful situation 
in which it has been stated they will be held, if they presume to find 
a verdict of conviction. I feel no danger that this jury can be 
intimidated by apprehensions, or influenced by prejudice. My learned 
friend and I have been represented as instruments of oppression 
against the gentleman at the bar. I consider it as the talk of the 
moment, because his learned counsel little knows us, if he thinks us 
capable of acting so abominable a part ; he could not mean it in the 
extent to which it reaches the common ear. I can consider it only as 
the splendid effusion of his talents ; he was anxious to lead you, 
gentlemen, from that which was the true object of consideration. You 
have been told, the defendant was prosecuted because he published an 
invitation to the Volunteers, entered into the discussion of a reform 
and Catholic Emancipation, and endeavoured to have a national 
convention assembled. I will tell the jury it is not a prosecution 
upon any one of these grounds ; but a prosecution, because these 
subjects were thrown before the public in a paper crammed with 
libellous and seditious matter, calculated to inflame. These measures, 
which were sought after, should be procured by the power of reason 
and not by an intimidation of the legislature. Little does the 
defendant's counsel know me, if he thinks I could prosecute a man for 
calling upon the Volunteers to suppress domestic tumult or resist 
a foreign foe ; these are the subjects to which he calls your attention, 
totally evading the offensive matter in the publication. Gentlemen, 
the questions which you are to try are these: Was this matter 
published ? Is it a libel ? And was the intention criminal ? Can 
he desire more ? If it was not published, if it be not libellous and 
the intention was not criminal, I agree that the defendant ought to be 

pasted away without trial, equally with the day appointed for the trial of the one 
which was stated to be informal. The Attorney-General afterwards withdrew 
the information stated to have been informal, and filed another in the stead thereof. 
Many of Mr. Rowan's friends suspected, that the motive for postponing the trials 
was the expectation of haying, under the shrievalty of Mr. Giffard, juries more 
favourable to government prosecutions, than they could entertain any hopes of 
having during the shrievalty of Mr. Hutton. In Michaelmas Term last, the 
Attorney-General applied to the court, that a day should be appointed for the trial 
of the information for distributing a seditious paper ; the court would not appoint 
a day in that term, but appointed a day for the trial of that information in Hilary 
Term following, viz. the 29th January last. After Mr. Rowan had received his 
sentence, being desirous of having the information for a seditious conspiracy also 
tried and disposed of, he instructed his counsel to move for the appointment of a 
day for the purpose ; and the counsel having mentioned to the Attorney-General 
such his instruction, the Attorney-General said that it was not his intention to 
proceed upon that information, and that he had been prevented only by a press of 
business from withdrawing it, but would without further delay, and accordingly 
the Attorney-General has since entered a noli prosequi as to that information. 


acquitted; and if the jury acquit him after a fair and candid 
discussion of the case, no man will be more satisfied than I shall 
But if, without such a consideration, a jury, in times of distraction 
and disorder should, acquit the factious, I agree with the gentleman, 
that the world would bear hard upon a jury, who from fear or favour 
betrayed that situation in which the law and the constitution placed 

Let me now, gentlemen, take that place which it is my duty to 
take, and which the gentleman on the other side, I suppose from 
address^o lightly touched upon. I shall reverse the order he adopted. 
The first question then is, " Whether the publication of this libel was 
by the defendant ?" If there be a man, entertaining a doubt after the 
evidence stated, it is in vain for me to address him. In support of the 
fact of publication Mr. Lyster has been examined ; he states that, 
upon the day of the publication of the paper, he was passing through 
Cope-street, in this city, and seeing a great crowd at the house of Mr, 
Pardon, he went there to know what the object of the meeting was ; 
he says, that on going to the door he saw Mr. Rowan, who prevented 
him from going to that part where the assembly was, saying he could 
not be let in with coloured clothes: afterwards he went up to the 
gallery : a bundle of papers was brought, some were thrown upon the 
table, and some handed up to the gallery, and this particular paper 
which he produced was thrown from a parcel which Mr. Hamilton 
Rowan had in his hand. The witness got this paper, which was thus 
for the first time put into circulation : he gave an account of the 
manner in which this matter was communicated to the Grown Solicitor. 
The witness was questioned much as to family matters, with a view 
to impeach his character, but it has had a contrary effect, for 
the matter was submitted to reference, and the authenticity of the 
instrument under which his brother claimed, has been established, 
and some hundreds awarded, one shilling of which would not have 
been given if they believed the instrument to be forged. When he 
was interrogated as to these matters, he said he heard, this day, that 
Mr. Blake was to be examined to impeach his character, "If I knew 
it before, said he, I could have had witnesses from the country 
to support me." But when Mr. Blake was called, did he in any 
respect whatever impeach the character of Mr. Lyster? he would 
not say that Mr. Lyster was not to be believed. What then must you 
think, when resort has been had to distant counties to find witnesses to 
impeach the character of Mr. Lyster, and out of the 150 men assembled in 
Cope-street, no one has been brought forward to deny the fact which has 
been sworn to ? Will the jury believe that if the fact could be contro- 
verted, men would not come forward with emulation to acquit Mr. 
Rowan ? I there join with his counsel : he is far above bringing any man 
forward to swear that which is not the fact ; he would not purchase 
an acquittal by such means, and therefore it is, gentlemen, that you 
have not witnesses to prove he was not there, or to prove he was in- 
active upon the occasion. 

The next witness, gentlemen, was Mr. Morton : he goes in direct 
confirmation of every thing sworn to by Lyster, though he does not 
prove the same individual paper; but he remembered hearing the 
words of such another paper read, it began with the words, " Citizen 



soildiers, to arms!" This evidence, though not decisive of itself as 
to the identity of the paper, is corroborative of the testimony of 
Lyster, and shows that Mr. Rowan was there. Thus stands the 
evidence as to the publication. Can any man doubt that this paper 
was published by Mr. Rowan? It is not necessary for me to tell you 
what is a publication in point of law, as to writing or printing ; but 
putting it into circulation is a publication in law and fact. I forgot 
to take notice of the other impotent attempts to impeacn the credit of 
Mr. Lyster by the evidence of Smyth, who could not prove any thing; 
and the evidence of an unfortunate woman, between whose daughter 
and Mr. Lyster's brother there had been some attachment But that 
I leave as matter of law to your lordships to state to the jury. Thus 
stands the evidence ; and with regard to the publication, if I were 
upon the jury, no earthly consideration could induce me not to give a 
verdict of conviction. 

I shall now beg leave to call your attention to the publication itself. 
It is charged in the information that it was designed to overthrow the 
Government, to overawe the Legislature, to create tumult and dis- 
order. There are paragraphs in the paper to warrant every charge 
contained in the information, which is, in point of law, sufficiently 
sustained. If there be a single paragraph of this paper to warrant 
the jury to draw this conclusion, that it was intended to throw the 
Government into disgrace, to excite the subjects to make alterations 
in the Government by force, to excite them to tumult, to overawe the 
Legislature by an armed force; if, I say, there is a single paragraph 
in this paper, from which you can draw that inference, it sufficiently 
proves the subject matter of the information. The gentleman con- 
cerned for the defendant read, from the account of a trial, what an 
English jury did in the case of the Morning Chronicle, as an example 
for an Irish jury, as if that was to bind you upon your oaths ; and 
yet what was the case ? The jury thought that a printer, endea- 
vouring to get his bread, was not as guilty as the person composing 
the libel, and that the former did not distribute it with any malicious 
view. But suppose 500 juries found such a verdict, are you to follow 
their example ? I am wishing to take up the distinction made by 
the defendant's counsel and my learned friend in the prosecution. If 
this paper had rested with the invitation of the Volunteers to arms, 
he never would have instituted this prosecution upon that account. 
As in the case in England, Lord Kenyon said, w there may be much 
innocent matter in the publication, but latet unguis in herba, there 
may be much to censure." But here is a publication teeming with 
faction, tumult, and sedition ; it is impossible to suppose it was intended 
for the old Volunteers, it comes from the Society of United Irishmen. 
The first words have been passed over by the defendant's counsel, 
but they shew at once the wicked adoption of French principles and 
French language. Is there any man who does not know that at that 
period, the French revolutionists universally adopted the expression 
of u Citizens." This paper begins, " Citizen soldiers, you first took 
up arms to protect your country from foreign enemies and domestic 
disturbance ; for the same purposes it now becomes necessary that 
you should resume them." It is not confined to summoning the Vo- 
lunteers to protect their country, it calls them to political discussion : 


was this a period for such proceedings ? "A proclamation has been 
issued in England for embodying the Militia, and a proclamation has 
been issued by the Lord Lieutenant and Council in Ireland, for 
repressing all seditious associations; in consequence of both these 
proclamations it is reasonable to apprehend danger from abroad and 
danger at home. For whence but from apprehended danger are 
those menacing preparations for war drawn through the streets of 
this capital ? or whence, if not to create that internal commotion 
which was not found, to shake that credit which was not affected, to 
blast that Volunteer honor which was hitherto inviolate." Gentlemen, 
was public credit affected or not ? Was there a man at that time who 
could reckon upon the security of his house for a night ? " Whence 
are those terrible suggestions, and rumours, and whispers that meet 
us at every corner, and agitate at least our old men, our women, and 
our children ? Whatever be the motive, or from whatever quarter it 
arises, alarm has arisen ; and you Volunteers of Ireland are there- 
fore summoned to arms at the instance of Government, as well as by 
the responsibility attached to your character, and the permanent obli- 
gations of your institution." If this were a real invitation to the 
Volunteers, it would endeavour to reconcile them to Government. 
They were called upon to defend, to stand or fall with the consti- 
tution, which they had, so much to their honor, exerted themselves 
to establish. But here follows a direct insinuation calculated to 
excite jealousy between the Government and them. " We will not 
at this day condescend to quote authorities for the right of having 
and of using arms, but we will cry aloud, even amidst the storm 
raised by the witch-craft of a proclamation." Is that a peaceable 
invitation to the Volunteers ? " that to your formation was owing 
the peace and protection of this island, to your relaxation has been 
owing its relapse into impotence and insignificance;" here the country 
is represented to be in such a state, that every man is called upon to 
rescue it from insignificance ; " to your renovation must be owing its 
future freedom and its present tranquillity ; you are therefore sum- 
moned to arms, in order to preserve your country in that guarded 
quiet which may secure it from external hostility, and to maintain 
that internal regimen throughout the land which, superseding a noto- 
rious police or a suspected militia, may preserve the blessings of peace 
by a vigilant preparation for war." This is a peaceable, quiet 
invitation to the Volunteers, setting thenx against the legalised 
establishments of the country, and against that measure which was in 

It is called a " suspected militia." The establishment of a great 
constitutional force, a militia, will be soon experienced to be of 
advantage to the kingdom, and not an oppression ; but too fatal have 
been the consequences of decrying it ; opposition was given to the 
militia law, and numbers have fallen sacrifices to their error. It is 
nothing less than an order to the army to disband ; that body of men 
to whom we owe the safety of the state, are told they are not to be 
entrusted. " Citizen soldiers, to arms, take up the shield of freedom 
and the pledges of peace — peace, the motive and end of your virtuous 
institution — war, an occasional duty, ought never to be made an 
occupation ; every man should become a soldier in the defence of his 


rights ; no man ought to continue a soldier for offending the rights 
of others ; the sacrifice of life in the service of our country is a duty 
much too honorable to be intrusted to mercenaries." In another 
paragraph it says, " By liberty we never understand unlimited free- 
dom, nor by equality the levelling of property or the destruction of 
subordination ; this is a calumny invented by that faction, or that 
gang, which misrepresents the King to the people, and the people to 
the King." What is the meaning of this paragraph ? it was unintel- 
ligible to me, until I heard the argument of the counsel ; he did fairly 
avow it to be the Government of this country, that a gang was 
formed to preserve themselves in power ; otherwise indeed it is the 
most rank nonsense and ribaldry that ever fell from the pen of man ; it 
seems to be a French idea, to excite tumult in the whole body of the 
people, The publication goes on and says, " Here we sit without mace 
or beadle, neither a mystery nor a craft, nor a corporation — in four 
words lies all our power, UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION and 
REPRESENTATIVE LEGISLATURE ; yet we are confident 
that on the pivot of this principle, a convention, still less a society, 
less still a single man, will be able first to move and then to raise the 
world. We therefore wish for Catholic emancipation, without any 
modification, but still we consider this necessary enfranchisement as 
merely the portal to the temple of national freedom ; wide as this 
entrance is — wide enough to admit three millions — it is narrow when 
compared to the capacity and comprehension of our beloved prin- 
ciple, which takes in every individual of the Irish nation, casts an 
equal eye over the whole island, embraces all that think, and feels for 
all that suffer. The Catholic cause is subordinate to our cause, and 
included in it ; for, as United Irishmen, we adhere to no sect but to 
society — to no creed but Christianity — to no party but the whole 
people. In the sincerity of our souls do we desire Catholic emanci- 
pation ; but were it obtained to-morrow, to-morrow would we go on, 
as we do to-day, in the pursuit of that reform, which would still be 
wanting to ratify their liberties as well as our own." Here the libel 
recommends an emancipation to the Catholics, as a colourable pretence 
for accomplishing their other schemes. " For both these purposes," 
says it, " it appears necessary that provincial conventions should 
assemble preparatory to the convention of the Protestant people. 
The delegates of the Catholic body are not justified in communicating 
with individuals, or even bodies of inferior authority, and therefore 
an assembly of a similar nature and organization — here the very 
terms made use of by the French revolutionists are again adopted in 
this publication — " is necessary to establish an intercourse of sentiment, 
an uniformity of conduct, an united cause and an united nation." 

In the subsequent paragraph, the author enforces the necessity of 
the speedy meeting of conventions. — " If," says he, " a convention on 
the one part does not soon follow, and is not soon connected with that 
on the other, the common cause will split into the partial interest ; 
the people will relax into inattention and inertness ; the union of 
affection and exertion will dissolve; and too probably some local 
insurrections, instigated by the malignity of our common enemy, 
may commit the character and risque the tranquillity of the island ; 
which can be obviated only by the 'influence of an assembly arising 


from, assimilated with the people, and whose spirit may be, as it 
were, knit with the soul of the nation — unless the sense of the 
Protestant people be, on their part, as fairly collected and as 
judiciously directed ; unless individual exertion consolidates into 
collective strength; unless the particles unite into mass, we may 
perhaps serve some person or some party for a little, but the public 
not at all." Does this mean to give the fullest dominion to the 
whole body of the people, to overawe the governing executive 
power ? Gentlemen, the mass of the people is to be collected after 
the French manner, and bear down all before them. French doctrines 
were to be carried into execution. Are those the innocent exami- 
nation of claims, and the discussion of great political subjects ? To 
what part of the discussion was it necessary to tell the army* that 
" seduction made them soldiers ?" Was it necessary for the delibera- 
tion of that great question, the emancipation of the Catholics of 
Ireland, to say to the army, " seduction made them soldiers, but nature 
made them men ?" The words are, " We now address you as citizens, 
for to be citizens you become soldiers, nor can we help wishing that 
all soldiers partaking the passions and interest of the people would 
remember, that they were once citizens, that seduction made them 
soldiers, but ' Nature made them men/ " I say, gentlemen, where was 
the necessity of telling the army, that seduction made them soldiers? 
Was it necessary to detach them from their duty, for the purposes 
which this publication intended to accomplish ? You are told that 
their whole creed, their whole system "lay in four words, UNIVER- 
LATURE." I say, without universal slavery there cannot be 
universal emancipation, and without the ruin of that constitution, the 
panegyric upon which produced such a burst of applause in favour 
of the learned counsel, there cannot be a representative legislature. 
The legislative authority consists of King, Lords and Commons. 
But they must have an elected King, and elected nobles to answer 
their ideas of representative legislature. I am unwilling to state the 
seditiousness of this libel farther : but there is another paragraph 
that deserves to be considered, it says, " The nation is neither inso- 
lent, nor rebellious, nor seditious ; while it knows its rights, it is 
unwilling to manifest its powers ; it would rather supplicate adminis- 
tration to anticipate revolution by a well-timed reform, and to save 
their country in mercy to themselves." Here the government of this 
country was called upon to yield to this reform, to anticipate revo- 
lution, and save this country in mercy to themselves. The peaceable 
language of discussion ! Can you read this publication and say it 
was not the intention of the publisher to intimidate and overawe the 
government of this country ? The people are invited to arms to 
catch a revolution by force, and then the government is called upon 
to anticipate the revolution by a reform. Is this the peaceable dis- 
cussion for which the counsel contend ? Or is this the freedom of 
the press, for which I would go as far as any man. Here the libel 
appoints a particular day for the convention to meet ; it says " The 
15th of February approaches — a day ever memorable in the annals 
of this country, as the birth day of New Ireland; let parochial meet- 
ings be held as soon as possible ; let each parish return delegates ; 



let the sense of Ulster be again declared from Dungannon, on a day 
auspicious to union, peace and freedom, and the spirit of the North 
will again become the spirit of the nation. The civil assembly ought 
to claim the attendance of the military associations." Here the mi- 
litary associations were particularly called on to attend the civil as- 
sembly at Dungannon : Was it for the purpose of giving weight to 
their resolutions ? Was it for the purpose of sending their reso- 
lutions to parliament, backed by the people in arms? It was 
a national convention to be attended by a national guard. — 
This was the object of this publication as it strikes me; the 
very able manner in which it was gone through by my learned 
friend, makes it unnecessary for me to dwell upon it, least I should 
weaken the force of his remarks. If you are satisfied of the fact 
that Mr. Rowan did publish the instrument in question, then you 
will consider whether that publication, was likely to produce the 
effects mentioned in the information, and you will decide whether 
the publication was an innocent or a criminal one ? I will agree it 
is matter for your consideration what was the immediate effect of 
publishing this libel ? Immediately after it was read, some copies of 
it were thrown out to the mob in the street, who called out for more 
of them, and more of them were thrown out. Here is a fact, which 
if you believe, is of considerable weight. Gentlemen, in this case 
there has been no justification, nothing has been said to palliate the 
publication. You will decide on the matter of this libel, and whether 
it was published with an innocent intention, or with that seditious 
view charged in the information. 

Gentlemen of the jury, in any case where a man kills another, it 
is prima facie evidence of malice, but it admits of proof to shew the 
manner in which it was done, and whether the party accused killed 
the person with a felonious intent, or whether the killing was by 
accident, and not done with any intention of taking away the life of 
the party. The allusion comes home ; here is a libel, and unless it 
is shewn by excuse or justification, that it can be qualified, the law 
will say it is libellous. 

In the present case, the learned counsel on the part of the de- 
fendant has endeavoured to set your hearts and passions against your 
consciences and judgments, by representing that the liberty of the 
press would be destroyed by a verdict against the defendant ; but I 
appeal to the authority to which he appealed to shew what the liberty 
of the press is, " It is employed as the centinel to alarm us ; we 
should take care it is not abused and converted into a traitor ; the 
instant it degenerates into licentiousness it must be punished. That 
is an opinion to which every man must subscribe, and which should 
be as lasting as the constitution itself. Gentlemen, I have trespassed 
too long upon your patience ; if you can reconcile it to your oaths, 
that Mr. Rowan did not publish this paper, or that it does not contain 
any matter libellous, no man will be better pleased at an acquittal 
than I shall. But on the other hand, I conjure you by your oaths, 
that uninfluenced by power or prejudice, favour or affection, you 
discharge your duty to God, your country, and yourselves. 

Earl Clonmbl, Lord Chief- Justice. — Gentlemen of the Jury. At 
this late hour, it is some relief to the bench and myself *that the 


learned gentlemen of the bar, on both sides, have so ably spoken in 
this case, that it is not now necessary for me to be very prolix or 
voluminous in my observations. I shall therefore, for your convenience 
and that of the bench, contract my observations within as short a 
space as, in the discharge of my duty, I think I ought to do. Before 
I go into the particulars or give any opinion upon the publication, 
I think it my duty to state and fully apprize you of a statute which 
passed the last session of parliament in this kingdom, by which it is 
declared and enacted, that upon all trials by indictment or information, 
(which, if it wanted it, is an additional solemnization of this mode of 
trial) where issue is joined, as in the present case, for making or 
publishing any libel, the jury may give a verdict of guilty or not, 
upon the whole matter put in issue, and shall not be required or 
directed, by the court, to find guilty merely upon proof of publication, 
provided the court shall, according to their discretion, give their 
opinion upon the matter in issue, in like manner as in other criminal 
cases. I shall endeavour, as far as I can, to conform to ,the spirit 
and words of the law. You had the power to do so before, perhaps 
you had the right ; this act of parliament is a legislative exposition 
of that right, and you will exercise it as becomes you. Though the 
evidence is not long or complicated, yet the paper is both long and 
complicated, therefore I will adopt that order which has been made 
by the bar, and class my observations under four heads, being the 
leading objects complained of in this information : 

1st. To make the government odious by endeavouring to disparage 
and degrade it. 

2d. To render the people discontented, not only with the govern- 
ment, but the constitution. 

3d. To solicit the people to take up arms, to intimidate the 

4th. Endeavouring, by tumult and by force, to make alterations 
in the constitution and government, and overturn them both. 

Gentlemen, every thing which I shall say to you, will fall under 
one of these heads. The information, of which I have an abstract in 
my hand, is that Archibald Hamilton Rowan, maliciously designing 
and intending to excite and diffuse among the subjects of this realm, 
discontents, jealousies, and suspicions of our lord the king and his 
government, and to raise dangerous seditions within this kingdom of 
Ireland, and to draw it into scandal and disgrace, and to incite the 
subjects of our said lord the king to attempt by force and violence to 
make alterations in the state and constitution, and to excite the sub- 
jects of our said lord the king to overturn the established constitution 
of this kingdom, and to intimidate the legislature of this kingdom 
by an armed force, on the 16th of December, in the 32d year of the 
king, in the county of the city of Dublin, wickedly, seditiously, and 
maliciously, did publish a libel of and concerning the government 
of this kingdom, according to the tenor and effect following : — " Society 
of United Irishmen to the Volunteers of Ireland," &c. They state 
themselves to be a self-created body ; they state it vauntingly, they 
say they have no authority save that of reason, they have no au- 
thority in the state. I will therefore consider the language of this 
paper as that of a body not known to the constitution, calling upon 


the subjects at large, though they scorn to call them so. Let me 
bring to your minds, that one gentleman thought the address was to 
a new created body of Volunteers ; another gentleman thought 
it was addressed to the original and respectable Volunteers ; take it 
either way, if addressed to the new created Volunteers it was for the 
purposes of sedition, and if to the old original Volunteers, it would be 
still more dangerous if they were to succeed with them in altering 
the constitution by force. It is stated, "William Drennan, President, 
Archibald Hamilton Rowan, Secretary." This is a strong pre- 
sumption that Mr. Rowan was acquainted with every part of the paper ; 
H professes upon the face of it that he was secretary of this society. 
I shall come, by and by, to the question of publication ; if he pub- 
lished it, there does arise a presumption that he knew what he 
published : I go no farther with that observation. He says, " Citizen 
soldiers, you first took up arms to protect your country from foreign 
enemies, and from domestic disturbances. For the same purposes it now 
becomes necessary that you should resume them." Citizen soldiers, 
you first took up arms, that is, in my judgment, you took them up 
originally for these two purposes, it now becomes necessary you should 
resume them for those purposes. "A proclamation has been issued in 
England for embodying the militia, and one in Ireland for repressing 
seditious associations. In consequence of both these proclamations, 
it is reasonable to apprehend danger from abroad and danger at home." 
The printed paper has been proved and read ; it says — "For whence 
but from apprehended danger, are those menacing preparations for war 
drawn through the streets of this capital, (inuendo y menacing the city 
of Dublin) or whence if not to create that internal commotion which 
was not found, to shake that credit which was not affected, to blast 
that Volunteer honour which was hitherto inviolate." In my opinion 
these words fall directly within one of those heads I have stated, as 
rendering odious to the king's subjects the proclamation as insin- 
cere and hypocritical, as creating internal commotions, which it 
intended to restrain, and that embarrassment, which was not 
found ; that it went further to the ruin of the country, shaking 
the credit which was not affected, and blasting the Volunteer 
honour which was hitherto inviolate ; as if it was said to be 
blasted by the executive government. This was, in my mind, a charge 
of having created disorder not before existing, of shaking the credit of 
the country contrary to the duty of government ; and blasting that 
Volunteer honour, which until this instrument appeared never was 
violated. It is charging them, in my opinion, as insidiously as the 
meanest mind can conceive, with perilling in a most vital part, the peace 
and the credit of the country. Whether it was calculated to inflame 
the minds of the subjects, will be for your consideration, on your oaths. 
It says, " These were rumours and suggestions which agitated our old 
men, our women, and children." What is that ? Why, this is all an 
imposition of government, they wanted to frighten you by a bugbear. 
" Whatever be the motive, or from whatever quarter it arises, 
alarm has arisen; and you, Volunteers of Ireland, are therefore 
summoned to arms at the instance of government, as well as by the 
responsibility attached to your character, and the permanent obligations 
of your institution." Here was another imputation upon government ; 


they have raised apprehensions and summoned these persons to take 
up arms. It goes on and says, " We will not at this day quote 
authorities for the right of using arms ; but we will cry aloud even 
amidst the storm raised by the witchcraft of a proclamation." «* We 
will cry aloud in the storm." Where or how was it raised? It says, 
"By the witchcraft of a proclamation." Here was an imputation 
charged upon the proclamations of government, as raising a storm in 
the country. It says, " To your formation was owing the peace and 
protection of this island, to your relaxation has been owing its relapee 
into impotence and insignificance ;" that is, when you were in arms 
this island was protected and in peace, and appeared to be of 
consideration ; to your relaxation has been owing its impotence and 
insignificance, therefore it can only be raised again into importance 
by your taking up arms. If that is the impression of this paragraph, 
you will consider whether this is a libel upon the government or not. 
It was a publication not only to the people of this kingdom, but to all 
the enemies of this nation, saying that this country was in a state of 
impotence and insignificance. It goes on and says, " That to your 
renovation must be owing its future freedom and its present tran- 
quillity. You are therefore summoned to arms, in order to preserve 
your country in that guarded quiet, which may secure it from external 
hostility, and to maintain that internal regimen throughout the land, 
which superseding a notorious police or a suspected militia, may 
preserve the blessings of peace by a vigilant preparation for war." It 
is impossible in a work of this kind, were it twice as libellous as it is, 
if it could be so, that it should not be mixed with some professions, 
some parts better than others ; it must profess something to be received. 
But it complains of a police and a militia that is suspected. It says, 
if you do not supersede a police and militia, you cannot preserve the 
blessings of peace. I say, therefore, in my opinion, no words can be 
more inflammatory than these are. You are charging the police as an 
evil sort of an establishment ; it is called a " notorious police," and 
the militia as consisting of persons proper to be suspected, not to be 
confided in. It says, " You must preserve the blessings of peace by 
a vigilant preparation for war. Citizen Soldiers, to arms ! take up 
the shield of freedom and the pledges of peace." What does that 
say ? Your arms only are the shield of freedom and pledges of peace; 
therefore take up arms. " Peace the motive and end of your virtuous 
institution. War, an occasional duty, ought never to be made 
an occupation. Every man should become a soldier in defence of his 
rights." Was it necessary to call them together; if their rights were 
not attacked, why invite them to collect themselves to defend that 
right ? It says, " No man ought to continue a soldier for offending the 
rights of others. The sacrifice of life in the service of our country 
is a duty much too honourable to be entrusted to mercenaries." They 
assume, or endeavour to assume, the power of the sword, and 
degrading the king's forces from that power with which they are 
entrusted, it says, the duty we suggest is too honourable for mercena- 
ries : Is not this saying, do not trust to the military, and at that time 
when by public authority it was declared that the country was 
in danger. The Volunteers, in that paper, were called upon to stand 
to their arms. Every expression of solicitation and stimulation is 



used. The Volunteers were called upon to resume their arms ; the 
nation was impotent and insignificant without it Citizens to arms ! 
you are summoned to arms: take up arms in spite of a notorious 
police and a suspected militia, and in spite of two proclamations. 
You are to do your duty to preserve good order in your vicinage, in 
spite of a police and fencible militia, for they resist peace, and 
you are to do your duty in spite of those constituted authorities. 
"It is only by the military array of men in whom they confide, whom 
they have been accustomed to revere as guardians of domestic peace, 
the protectors of their liberties and lives, that the present agitation 
of the people can be stilled, that tumult and licentiousness can be 
repressed, obedience secured to existing law, and a calm confidence 
diffused through the public mind, in the speedy resurrection of a free 
constitution, of liberty and of equality — words which we use for an 
opportunity of repelling calumny." That is, it is only by a military 
array of men you can have a Free Constitution; that is as much as to 
say, the people of Ireland have not a Free Constitution. Whether that 
be the meaning of the paper, as charged in the information, will be 
for your consideration. The words Liberty and Equality are 
introduced for an opportunity, say they, of repelling calumny ! 
Where did it come from ? WTiy did the Society find it necessary to 
repel it ? How did they repel it ? By the words Liberty and Equality, 
which they think proper to explain in this way. " By liberty we 
never understood unlimited freedom, nor by equality, the levelling of 
property err the destruction of subordination. This is a calumny 
invented by that faction, or that gang, which misrepresents the king 
to the people, and the people to the king ; traduces one half of the 
nation to cajole the other, and by keeping up distrust and division, 
wishes to continue the proud arbitrators of the fortune and fate of 
Ireland." Here, he says, a Faction or Gang misrepresents the king 
to the people. Is not this an aspersion, endeavouring to render the 
governing power odious ? What is this gang which he says misre- 
presents the king to the people ? I leave you to determine. Why is 
the misrepresentation? The paper insinuates for the purposes of 
power which they abuse. " Liberty is the exercise of all our rights, 
natural and political, secured to us and our posterity by a real 
representation of the people ; and equality is the extension of the 
constituent to the fullest dimensions of the constitution, of the elective 
franchise to the whole body of the people, to the end that government, 
which is collective power, may be guided by collective will." These 
are terms, gentlemen, which you may probably understand, though 
they are conveyed in an unascertained and declamatory stile. Gen- 
tlemen of the jury, at the time that the qualification of a voter to 
give his suffrage to a candidate for a seat in parliament was originally 
ascertained, forty shillings was equivalent then, as it is calculated, to 
forty pounds of our present currency ; from the time of Henry L to 
Queen Anne, the value of money had advanced in a ratio of one to 
twelve ; from that time to this it has been as one to twenty ; so that 
a man then having an estate of twenty shillings a year was equal to 
a man's having an estate of twenty pound of our present money. 
The elective franchise never was in the whole body of the people in 


Great Britain or Ireland.* It says, " That legislation may originate 
from public reason, keep pace with public improvement, and terminate 
in public happiness — If our constitution be imperfect, nothing but 
a reform in representation will rectify its abuses." In figurative 
abstracted expressions it is not easy to ascertain the meaning ; although 
you have an impression of the object. This may be a very innocent 
proposition ; but to me it may be a very wicked one, when applied to 
be obtained in the manner here pointed out : it says, " nothing bat a 
Reform will rectify its abuses — nothing but a Reform will perpetuate 
its blessings ;" and then it goes on and says, " We now address you 
as Citizens," &c. Not a word of subjects from beginning to end- 
that is a word driven out of fashion, at least in this publication — 
" Seduction made them soldiers, but nature made them men." What 
had this charge to the soldiers to do with a parliamentary reform ? I 
quarrel not with the composition, it is not my duty, but in my mind 
here is a direct charge upon the military, that they were imposed 
upon, that seduction had made them soldiers. The sword is put into 
the hands of the sovereign, he is vested with it by the constitution, 
and yet this paper says, it was made an instrument of seduction. 
" We address you without any authority, save that of reason, and if 
we obtain the coincidence of public opinion, it is neither by force nor 
stratagem, for we have no power to terrify, no artifice to cajole, no 
fund to seduce — here we sit without mace or beadle, neither a mys- 
tery, nor a craft, nor a corporation." 

Here they acknowledge they had no proper authority to call the 
people to arms, which they assume to do by that publication ; they 
avow that this society did make no corporate body or legal authority. 
They add, " In four words lies all our power, UNIVERSAL 
Yet we are confident that on the pivot of this principle, a convention, 
still less a society; less still a single man, will be able first to move 
and then to raise the world." I rest here a little to consider what 
idea this writer must have of the power of the paper, when a single 
man will be able first to move and then to raise the world ; one of the 
charges is, that this paper intended to stir the people to arms, it is an 
admission here, a profession, a vaunt, that the society, nay less, a 
single man, may move and then raise the world ; the expression is 
not one kingdom, but to raise the world. If any thing like it has 
happened, it is a miserable consideration. " We therefore wish for 
Catholic emancipation without any modification, but still we consider 
this necessary enfranchisement as merely the portal to the temple of 
national freedom; wide as this entrance is — wide enough to admit 
three millions, it is narrow, when compared to the capacity and com- 
prehension of our beloved principle, which takes in every individual 
of the Irish nation." It is but a portal to freedom: what, unqualified 
emancipation! It is for you to consider what the beloved principle 
is. Emancipating three millions is opening a portal — what portal? 
one which takes in every individual of the Irish nation — where? 
into power, into the elective franchise; it embraces all that think, 
and feels for all that suffer. " The Catholic cause is subordinate to 
our cause, and included in it, for as United Irishmen, we adhere to 

* Vide Prynne Brev. Pari. red. p. 187. & 2 Whitelock p. 90. contra. 


no sect but to society, to no creed but Christianity, to no party but 
the whole people. In the sincerity of our souls do we desire 
Catholic emancipation : but were it obtained to-morrow, to-morrow 
would we go on, as we do to-day, in the pursuit of that reform 
which would still be wanting to ratify their liberties as well as our 
own." You, Roman Catholics, emancipated to-morrow, will not stop 
us, we will go on, and unless you go on with us, it will not be 
sufficient to establish your liberty. " For both these purposes, it 
appears necessary that provincial conventions should assemble prepa- 
ratory to the convention of the Protestant people. The delegates of 
the Catholic body are not justified in communicating with individuals 
or even bodies of inferior authority, and therefore an assembly 
of a similar nature and organization is necessary to establish an 
intercourse of sentiment, an uniformity of conduct, an united cause 
and an united nation. If a convention on the one part does not soon 
follow, and is not soon connected with that on the other, the common 
cause will split into the partial interest ; the people will relax into 
inattention and inertness, the union of affection and exertion will 
dissolve, and too probably some local insurrection, instigated by the 
malignity of our common enemy, may commit the character and 
risque the tranquillity of the island, which can be obviated only by 
the influence of an assembly arising from, assimilated with people, 
and whose spirit may be, as it were, knit with the soul of the nation : 
unless the sense of the Protestant people be, on their part, as fairly 
collected and as judiciously directed, unless individual exertion 
consolidates into collective strength, unless the particles unite into 
mass, we may perhaps serve some person, or some party for a little, 
but the public not at all ; the nation is neither insolent nor rebellious 
nor seditious ; while it knows its rights it is unwilling to manifest its 
powers; it would rather supplicate administration to anticipate 
revolution by a well-timed reform, and to save their country in 
mercy to themselves.' 1 

Gentlemen, this last paragraph is a menace ; for if the proposal 
made is not accepted, a revolution is threatened. The paper in 
question proceeds in the following words : " The 15th of February 
approaches, a day ever memorable in the annals of this country as the 
birth-day of New Ireland ; let parochial meetings be held as soon as 
possible ; let each parish return delegates. Let the sense of Ulster 
be again declared from Dungannon, on a day auspicious to union, 
peace and freedom, and the spirit of the North will again become the 
spirit of the nation. The civil assembly ought to claim the attention 
of the military associations." The civil assembly was to be attended 
by military forces ; was not the intention to alter the constitution ? 
"We have addressed you, citizen soldiers, on this subject, from 
a belief that your body, uniting conviction with zeal, and zeal with 
activity, may have much influence over your countrymen, your 
relations and friends." Armed citizens was the favourite object that 
was to be gained ; it says, " We presume not at present to fill up the 
plan or pre-occupy the mode of its execution, we have thought it our 
duty to speak. Answer us by actions. You have taken time 
for consideration. Fourteen long years are elapsed since the rise of 
your associations." This part is very material, it says to the people, 


" take up your arms," and it says, "answer us by actions." What are 
the actions of men in arms? Armed associations will support the 
different meetings. We have spoken out to you: answer us with 
your actions. " Fourteen long years are elapsed since the rise of your 
associations; and in 1782 did you imagine that in 1792 this nation 
would still remain unrepresented? How many nations, in this 
interval, have gotten the start of Ireland ?" How far Ireland has 
been backward in the number of good subjects, have they asked? 
No. The question here is, how many nations have gotten the start of 
Ireland? What is meant by this start? What nations are there, 
that have in fourteen years advanced more than ourselves in happiness ? 
None. What actions of other nations would that publication recom- 
mend to Ireland to follow ? It concludes with this sentence ; " How 
many of our countrymen have sunk into the grave ?" Gentlemen, I 
have gone through the paper mentioned in the information, and made 
such observations as I thought necessary. I do, as it is my duty, tell 
you, that I think it deserves the appellations given to it by the 
information. I take it to be a scandalous and seditious libel ; but that 
is my opinion only. Gentlemen of the jury, it is you who are to 
decide the question, whether you think it is a scandalous or seditious 
libeL The verdict will be yours, and not mine. 

Gentlemen, in order to support this prosecution, the first witness 
that was produced is John Lyster; he told you [here his lordship 
stated the testimony of Lyster, as given upon his direct examination.] 
On his cross-examination he gave an account of the manner in which 
he communicated this matter to Mr. Kemmis, the Crown Solicitor ; 
said he would communicate to him what he knew; produced the 
paper that was read in part by Mr. Rowan. Said he did not know 
where Mr. Rowan stopt reading. Says he, the witness, did not 
purchase his commission as ensign in the army; got it through 
the interest of Lady Hobart, his relation. The witness attested two 
bonds, there was an issue directed to try whether those bonds were 
genuine. Was asked whether he was examined as a witness at that 
trial; believes he was examined as a witness; the issue was tried 
before Mr. Justice Boyd ; there was an award of £200 out of £800. 
Says Mr. Lambert filed a bill against him about a note of £147 
which Peter Hamilton passed to witness. Attempts were made 
to impeach the credit of this witness upon three or four grounds : 
1st. He was a witness to the bonds which were alledged to have been 
forged — an unfair transaction. 2d. That he got the note from a 
person alledged to be insane. 3d. That he had got a commission. 
4th. That it was not probable he made this memorandum. I can 
only say, he has given a rational account of this business ; but it is 
your duty to judge of his credit ; it is my duty to make observations, 
which it is your duty to reject if they are not well founded. He says 
he is an ensign in the 40th regiment. He got the commission 
through the interest of a relation ; and it appears the arbitrators 
did give his brother since, part of the demand, by which, if it 
weighed a feather in the case, they thought the bond was not 
a forgery. Says it was usual to take memorandums on getting papers 
of this kind. Says there was about 150 or 200 Volunteers in the 
room. Was Lyster's evidence not satisfactory to you, he was the 



only witness to this great part of the case. This observation has been 
made : a What! 150 persons present, and not one of them comes 
forward to attest the innocence of Mr. Rowan !"* * * 

But the next witness does, in my apprehension, as far as he goes, 
confirm every word said by Lyster. Morton says, he saw numbers 
of persons in the room doing some business at the table. Saw Mr. 
Tandy and Mr. Rowan in the room. The witness had seen them 
before that day. He identified Mr. Rowan in court. He appeared 
to take an active part in the business. Witness got admission into 
the gallery. He saw a bundle of papers on the table, several were 
distributed to the mob in the street, who called out for more. The 
witness got a paper, which he gave to a person who said he had lost 
it. Witness said he heard part of a paper read, containing the words 
" Citizen soldiers, to arms.' 9 If it stood upon this man's evidence, 
here was not evidence of publication ; and if it rested upon him alone, 
you should acquit the defendant ; but as corroborating the testimony 
of Lyster, it is very materiaL If the counsel for the defendant 
intended to discredit the witnesses for the prosecution, they have 
failed. A gentleman from Galway, a Mr. Blake, was produced, who 
says he now lives in Dublin, gave his evidence as to Lyster, which I 
shall come to by-and-by. Morton's credit was not questioned. 
Morton, on his cross-examination, said, he was an apprentice to a 
gold-beater — believes the persons he saw at the room in Cope-street 
were in the uniform of the old Volunteers — is sure he saw Mr. Rowan 
there — some of the persons wore scarlet with different coloured facings 
— witness said he could see from the gallery what was done at the 
table. He gave the paper, the day he received it, to a person in the 
house where the Dublin Journal is printed. The paper was then 
read which I have stated to you, and you have heard so much of. 
Here the prosecution was rested. On the part of the defendant was 
produced Mr. Francis Blake, to show that John Lyster was a person 
not to be credited upon his oath. Mr. Blake was asked whether 
Lyster was a man to be believed upon his oath ; he answered he could 
not say he is not to be believed upon his oath ; but he would hesitate. 
The witness was produced to show that Lyster should not be believed 
upon his oath, but Blake said no such thing. In a question, whether 
the oath of one man ought to be received, where another man swears 
he ought not to be believed upon his oath ; then you would have one 
man's oath against another. The credit of Lyster is not affected by 
what Mr. Smith the second witness has said. The third witness to 
this point was Mrs. Hatchell ; she said she knew John Lyster ; she 
was asked whether he was to be believed upon his oath ? she said, 
according to her opinion, he was not to be believed upon his oath ; 
she said the witness, John, had prevailed on his brother to quit his 
wife, and said he was married to another woman, which was not 
truth said she heard declarations from John's elder brother, and that 

* The editor is here under a necessity of introducing an hiatus, the printer 
having refused to print this part according to the notes furnished to him by the 
editor. (Original note by Mr. Rowan to his own Edition of this Trial. ) 


was one of the reasons why she said the witness, John, ought not to 
be believed upon his oath. In the usual course of evidence no proof 
has been adduced to prove that the witness Lyster ought not to be 
believed upon his oath. 

Gentlemen of the jury, I think this is the evidence on both sides, 
as correctly as I have been able to take it. As to the fact of publi- 
cation, it is my duty to tell you, there is very strong evidence that 
Mr. Rowan did publish that paper, and did publish it knowing what 
he published ; and as to the other matter, whether it is a libel, I have 
told you I thought the matter libellous — libellous in the extreme ; I 
now tell you, that is my opinion. If you, upon the whole matter, 
believe, upon your oaths, that Mr. Rowan published the paper, and 
with the criminal intention stated in the information, and for the 
purposes ascribed to him, you ought to find him guilty, for I think 
the paper entitled to, and deserves the appellation annexed to it — it 
is a seditious libel. If you believe he did not publish it ; if you 
disbelieve the evidences which have been uncontradicted ; if you 
believe he published it by mistake or ignorance, not meaning to 
publish this paper, which might happen, but of which there is not a 
tittle of evidence in this case, you will find him not guilty. I will 
state this direction in other words ; if you find him guilty, it must be, 
because you believe in your consciences he published it, and that you 
believe the inuendoes are true ; meaning, as well as you understand 
this paper, reading it separately or collectively together, that he 
published it with a criminal intention ; that is, adopting its sense and 
meaning. If you acquit him, it must be, because you do not believe 
he published it, or that he did not mean to adopt its sense and 
meaning. I must tell you, his thinking it not mischievous, is not a 
reason why you should acquit him. His thinking he was doing right, 
if you believe the intention of the paper was to raise forces to inti- 
midate the legislature, which is the great object complained of, though 
he was thinking he was right to accomplish his object by every means, 
will not be an excuse ; that would lead to the acquittal of every felon 
upon earth. If a man was accused of a felony, and he thought he 
was doing a right thing to murder his neighbour, thinking he was 
doing a right thing would be no excuse to him. If the defendant's 
object was merely a reform in parliament, yet if he endeavoured by 
force, or by illegal means, to obtain it, you ought to find him guilty. 
I have stated the facts, and made such observations as occur to me to 
be necessary — I have stated the point of crimination, and I now leave 
to you to dispose of the question ; and have not the least doubt you 
will do as becomes you. If I have been defective, I shall be corrected 
by my brethern, whom you will hear with pleasure and information. 

The honourable Mr. Justice Boyd. — Gentlemen of the Jury. My 
Lord Clonmel has so fully stated the information, it is not necessary 
for me to repeat it. With regard to his observations, I adopt them 
every one in the same degree of latitude in which he delivered them: 
I think the paper deserves the appellation in the information ; it is a 
false, scandalous, and malicious libel. My Lord Clonmel mentioned 
an act of parliament which was made upon its being thought the 
judges went too far in former cases, it gives you power to decide on 
questions of this kind, whether libel or not ; you are to give your 



opinion on the whole of the matter, and therefore you are not bound 
to find according to our direction. My opinion concurs with Lord 
Ctonmel's, that the paper is a libel. If you, gentlemen of the jury, 
are of a different opinion, you are not bound to go by the opinion of 
the court, in point of law, in a case of libeL You have heard the 
evidence, and the first question which arises is, whether there was 
any publication of this paper by Mr. Rowan ? If you are of opinion 
that Mr. Bowan did not publish the paper in question, you must 
acquit him. K you think it is not a libel, even though he did publish 
it, you ought to acquit him. If he published it by mistake or igno- 
rantly, that is a ground for acquittal. But his own opinion of what 
he thought right, even in obtaining the emancipation of the Catholics, 
or a parliamentary reform by force of arms ; however laudable he 
thought himself, the intention of the publication was a criminal one, 
and in that case you ought to find him guilty. 

The honourable Mr. Justice Dowhxs. — Gentlemen of the Jury. 
Hie few words I shall trouble you with, will be in concurrence with 
what you have heard from the rest of the court. The fact of publi- 
cation depends upon the evidence you have heard, and the degree of 
credit you will give to the witness. I agree in the observations upon 
Lyster's testimony, no degree of difficulty occurs in contradicting him, 
if what he said was false. If you do believe that Lyster deserves 
credit, the publication of this paper is proved to have been made, 
industriously, by the defendant, knowing its contents; and under 
such circumstances as, I should not hesitate to say, adopted its con* 
tents. If you believe it was published under these circumstances 
which you have heard, it will be for your consideration to determine, 
whether it be a libel, and with what intent it was published ? I 
concur in the observations upon its contents, and I am unable to read 
it without being of opinion that the tendency of this paper is to 
excite to arms the persons to whom it was addressed, and for the 
purpose of making alterations in the government of this kingdom, as 
charged in the introductory part of the information. If you believe 
the account of the mode of publication given by Lyster, and believe 
the defendant adopted this paper as his act, you are to look for the 
intent upon the paper itself, and on which you are to decide. If you 
believe that the general tendency of it was to excite tumult in the 
country, and to call to arms any description of men, no doubt can be 
entertained, that it is libellous, and it must be imputed to the defen- 
dant, he having given no evidence of a contrary intention. To 
attempt to effect by force any alteration in the constitution of the 
country, or to overawe the legislature by force — any such act of 
force would be high treason ; and to publish a paper to excite people 
to do such an act, no man can doubt is a libel. If you do think such 
was the tendency of the paper in question, you cannot hesitate to find 
the defendant guilty. There was no evidence to shew the tendency 
of the paper was of a contrary nature. The intentions of the pub- 
lisher are deducible from the paper itself; if it was the purpose of 
the publisher of the paper to attain an alteration in the state by force, 
it was a criminal intention, however desirable the alteration might 
be supposed to be, or whether the object sought for was in itself 
right, or not. I will not trouble you any farther. I have given the 


case the best consideration I am able. You will decide upon it 
according to jour oaths, and I have no doubt the defendant will have 
every justice in your hands. 

The jury withdrew, taking with them the printed paper which had 
been read in court, and in about ten minutes returned, and brought 
in their verdict, 

We find Archibald Hamilton Rowan— GUILTY. ♦ 

Lord Clonmel. — Do the counsel for the defendant desire four days 
time to move in arrest of judgment ? 

Mr. Curran. — The only instructions I have from my client are to 
disclaim any application of that kind: he does not wish to take 
advantage of errors in the record, if any there be, but is now ready 
to attend to receive what sentence the court may be pleased to pro- 

Lord Clonmel. — (After conferring with the other judges) We will 
not pronounce judgement till four days. — Mr. Sheriff take care of 
your prisoner. 

The counsel for Mr. Rowan here objected, that he was not a 
prisoner — he had not been in custody — he had not given bail upon 
this information — he was bound in no recognizance— was served with 
no process — he had appeared to the information by attorney ; — he 
pleaded by attorney — the issue was tried after the manner of a civil 
action, a word merely of the record being read, and the defendant was 
not given in charge to the jury as the practice is, where he appears in 
custody. Mr. Rowan attended the trial, it is true, but the court had 
no judicial cognizance of him ; the information could have been tried 
in his absence — he attended as a common auditor, and the witness 
being called upon to point him out at the desire of the bench, might have 
been a satisfaction to them to see that the witnesses were speaking of 
the same person, but it was altogether unprecedented in such cases as 
the present Mr. Rowan was ready for sentence — he claims no 
indulgence— does not insist upon the four-day rule ; but if the court, 
for their own accommodation, choose to defer the sentence for four 
days, they have no legal authority for sending Mr. Rowan to prison, 
until sentence pronounced, or the usual and accustomed process issued 
against him. 

Lord Clonmel. — If the Attorney-General consents, I have no 

The Attorney-General had left court, and the Solicitor for the 
Crown remained silent 

Lord Clonmel. — The defendant is a convict, as such he is a prisoner 
— the law must have its course. Adjourn the court 

Accordingly the court was adjourned. 

Mr. Rowan was conveyed to the New prison, attended by both the 
Sheriffs, and a formidable array of horse and foot guards. 

* When this verdict was first brought in, there was a loud clap of approbation 
commenced in the outer hall, it is presumed from a misconception that the jury 
had acquitted the defendant ; for when the verdict was repeated, and the word 
guilty, sufficiently stressed, the clap was changed into hootmgs, and hissings, and 
groans, that lasted with very little remission, during the remainder of the sitting 
of the court. 



Monday, February 3, 1794. 

A habeas corpus, grounded on the affidavit of Mr. Matthew Dow- 
ling, Mr. Rowan's solicitor, was granted to bring up John Coultry, 
confined in Newgate for debt, to swear an affidavit ; Mr. Rowan was 
also ordered up for the same purpose ; when their affidavits, together 
with those of William Porter, John William Atkinson, and Francis 
Clarke, were sworn. 

Mr. Recobdeb moved the court to set aside the verdict obtained on 
Wednesday last and grant a new trial in this cause, pursuant to a 
notice served on Mr. Attorney-General, and grounded on these 
affidavits, the contents of which he set forth. 

Mr. Attorney-General, having after some time come into court, 
moved the court to appoint a day to have Mr. Rowan brought up for 

Lord Clonmel appointed to-morrow, and at the same time acquainted 
the Attorney-General with the Recorder's motion, and the nature of 
the affidavits. 

The Attorney-General then desired to have them read ; which 
they were as follows : 

The affidavit of Porter stated that he (Porter) had a conversation 
with George Perrin, one of the jurors in the case, on the Wednesday 
previous to the trial, and that Perrin said that the country would 
never have repose until Napper Tandy and Hamilton Rowan were 
transported or hanged. Atkinson deposed in his affidavit to several 
disparaging remarks made by George Perrin relating to the traverser, 
and that he (George Perrin) on one occasion, previous to the trial, 
had said that Rowan and several others (of the Volunteers) deserved 
and ought to be hanged. The affidavit of Coultry charged Lyster 
with personating his brother and swearing to the property in a horse 
which had been seized for debt, and which Lyster made affidavit was 
his, he swearing that he was George William Lyster, who in fact 
was one of his brothers ; Clarke's affidavit stated that Lyster having 
been summoned by him to the court of Conscience had sworn falsely 
there, that he did not know and had never seen Clarke, the fact being 
that Lyster had been during six years in the habit of frequenting 
Clarke's shop, and had spoken with him a few days previous to 
Lyster's making such oath. Mr. Rowan stated in his affidavit that 
several persons whom he had not known before the trial would be 
material witnesses to impeach the testimony of Lyster, that some 
members of the jury had, previous to the trial, uttered speeches dis- 
approving of the conduct of Mr. Rowan ; and, further, that he had 
no doubt, from daily enquiries made and then being made into the 
life, conduct, and character of Lyster, that he would be enabled to 
prove him to be a man who ought not to be believed upon his oath. 
After Mr. Rowan's affidavit had been read, he was advised by counsel 
to make another, and was permitted by the court. This further 
affidavit utterly denied the fact of publication sworn to by Lyster 
and Morton ; stated that Mr. Rowan did not previously know the 
circumstances detailed in the affidavits of Clarke, Porter, Coultry, 
and Atkinson, that John Giffard the Sheriff, was a Government 
Journalist, had an office in Revenue, was prejudiced against Rowan, 
and has endeavoured to empannel jurors prejudiced like himself. 


After it was read the court asked the Attorney-General, whether 
he wished for time to have these affidavits answered ; to which he 
having replied in the negative, the court ordered Mr. Rowan to he 
brought up on the following day ; and adjourned. 

Tuesday, February 4, 1794. 

Mr. Recorder said he was instructed that there were four new 
affidavits, sworn to the same purpose as those read yesterday, to prove 
that others of the jurors had used expressions of enmity against Mr. 
Rowan before the trial, and prayed that they might be read. 

Mr. Attorney-General objected, for that yesterday was the last 
day, in which any affidavits could be made, and now it was attempted to 
bring others without any notice ; he was willing that this case should 
meet the fairest and fullest investigation, but would not consent that 
the rules of court should be departed from on this, more than on any 
other occasion. 

Mr. Recorder. — I am very sensible that in ordinary civil cases, 
where any motion is made to set aside a verdict, the party must apply 
within four days, and lay a sufficient ground for the motion ; but 
even then the court would sometimes indulge the party with another 
day, to lay before it new materials, in advancement of justice.* The 
intention of the traverser, or his counsel, was not to do anything by 
surprise, or to bring these affidavits hastily forward, to prevent the 
crown from answering them ; we are willing to give any reasonable 
time for that purpose. But your lordships will consider the circum- 
stances in which this traverser stands ; that he is in confinement and 
not at liberty to search for evidence, or the necessary materials for 
his defence ; not standing in the situation of a defendant in any civil 
action, but in a situation which the law regards so far, as never to 
impute laches to any man whilst he is in prison. If it is necessary, 
I am instructed that affidavits can be made, that the matters, now 
brought forward, were only discovered since the rising of the court 
yesterday, and there is scarce an hour that further evidence does not 
come forward, tending to show the truth and reality of the present 
case. The information now offered to the court has been so lately 
brought to light, that the agent has not had time to brief the affidavits; 
I have only been informed, on my way into court, of the purpose for 
which they are brought forward, and am still ignorant of their contents; 
and as the justice of the case may be advanced, and no inconvenience 
can result from it, I trust your lordships will allow these affidavits 
to be* read, and the motion either to go forward now, or to wait till 
the counsel for the crown shall have an opportunity of answering 

Mr. Attorney*-Generax. — The rank, character, or situation of any 
man standing in this court accused of a crime, I conceive to be a 
matter of perfect insignificance, when put in competion with the 
settled rules of distributive justice. There are a certain number of 
days given to move in arrest of judgment, or for new trial $ within 

* For the rule m criminal cases, see Rex v. Holt, 5 T. Rep. 436 ; Rex v. Hether- 
ington, 5, Jurist, 529; R. v. Scully, Al. & Nap. 262; Rex v. Teal. 11, East, 307. 



which the party is to lay before the court the ground upon which he 
means to move : all then that is insisted upon is that this defendant 
should be bound by the same rule that binds every man in the like 
circumstances : for if a party should be at liberty from day to day to 
bring forward new affidavits, there never would be an end of any 
prosecution.* Mr. Recorder's observation shows the good sense of 
this rule ; he says new materials are pouring in every hour — I doubt 
it not ; and that new affidavits may come in to-night ; and the same 
arguments used to-day will be used to-morrow. 

Mr. Cubran. — There was no objection made yesterday to the 
reading of affidavits, which were made and sworn in the presence 
of the court. Mr. Attorney-General has himself said that the 
defendant was at liberty yesterday ; if so, he is equally within the 
rule to-day, for this is only a continuation of the same motion :— this 
is a question put, as it were, to the conscience of the court, viz. do your 
lordships think that justice has been so done, that it ought-not to be sent 
to a new enquiry ; and shall any rule of practice be suffered to preclude 
the light which should inform that conscience ? — It would be absurd 
that no distinction should be made between ordinary and extraordinary 
cases ; in small matters summary justice is enforced ; but in such a case 
as this is (he would speak as guardedly as possible) the court will con- 
sider that punishment is not inflicted vindictively, but for example and 
prevention ; and that nothing gives so much force to the preventive effect 
of sentences of courts of justice, as all the world being able to say, every 
fair enquiry has been made, and the sentence has passed in consequence 
of an impartial verdict. There is a way known to our law to set 
verdicts aside, where there has been any abuse of justice ; any fault 
in the returning officer, the jury, or the witnesses; or any mistake in 
the court: all applications and information for this purpose have 
been received with indulgence ; and upon the most cool enquiry it 
has been found that the verdict, upon which the sentence was had, 
must have satisfied the reasonable, fair, conscientious mind of any 
man ; this it is which gives to the sentence of the law that good and 
tranquillising effect, for which alone it is intended. 

We are now prepared to shew that more of these jurors have made 
express declarations of malice, and shall it lie in the mouth of the 
prosecutor to say, there is a rule which operates like a trap upon the 
conscience of the court of King's Bench; that after a certain moment 
it becomes so helpless, that let what will arise it can do justice no 

I say the rules are the instruments, not the tyrants of the court; 
as to the point of practice it is conceived that trials at bar are not 
within the four-day rule ; but I go upon a more solid ground, and 
appeal to this, that the court has a right to receive information, at any 
time, in furtherance of justice ; if it were necessary to cite cases, 
there has been a very late one in this court, where it has exercised 
the very same discretion. 

After the verdict was brought in, not having the least idea that 
there was any fact existing, which could impeach the verdict, the tra- 
verser's counsel stated, that if it was the pleasure of the court, he 

• R. v. Bowditch, 2 Chitty'g R. 278. 


should appear to receive sentence; and let me observe that he did not 
at that time conceive that he was in custody; he was not called on to 
appear; there was no order, and the only judicial knowledge the court 
had of his being present, was that a witness turned to him to identify 
him ; if then, instead of being at large, as he ought to have been, he 
was put into prison, where he had not the same opportunity of procur- 
ing evidence, however universally it might exist, can there be a 
stronger circumstance to shew that he is peculiarly entitled to the 
indulgence he seeks. 

Mr. Fletcher, on the same side. — When I see the temper of the 
audience which surrounds me, I shall avoid touching upon public 
topics with the same delicacy, which the gentleman who preceded me 
has done. If justice is the object of this prosecution, why stand upon 
such punctilious points of practice, and inter apices juris : in the case 
alluded to, it was insisted that the four-day rule did apply to trials at 
bar, but the court decided otherwise, and there is good reason for the 
distinction ; in cases coming from the country this rule is necessary, 
to prevent the one party from keeping the postea in his pocket, until 
he could surprise the other at a time when he was not, perhaps, so 
well prepared to impeach the verdict; it is necessary, then, that there 
should be a fixed time, that no advantage may be snatched ; but there 
is no analogy to a case of this kind, which is entirely in the breast of 
the court 

In the Dean of St, Asaph's case, a great prosecution instituted, like 
this, to answer the ends of public peace, and public policy, the court 
did exercise its wisdom upon the merits of the business before it; the 
rule was not adhered to, but the parties were let in after the four days 
had expired. As to the objection which has been thrown out, that 
if this matter is postponed we may come in to-morrow, and the next 
day, and so on ; it is answered, that we will undertake, if it should 
lie over till to-morrow, to rest satisfied, and seek for no more 

This is merely a point of practice, and it strikes my mind as folly 
to say, that so high a court as this has not its practice within its own 

Lord Clonmel, Chief- Justice. — On the day that Mr. Rowan was 
convicted, we were called upon for judgment ; but we conceived, that 
even if it was not a matter of right upon adjudged cases, it was still 
proper, that the defendant should have four days to question the ver- 
dict, or move in arrest of judgment: Suppose, instead of that, we had 
then pronounced judgment, all argument would have been concluded, 
for it would have been absurd to say, that he should have been suffered, 
after that, to unravel the proceedings ; then what has passed since ? 
A motion has been made and entertained upon affidavits, stating facts, 
of which the party has had information since that day ; I mention 
this to shew that there has been no precipitancy in the court, nor 
possible hardship in what it has done. Yesterday Mr. Rowan made 
an affidavit, some others were also made; Mr. Rowan desired to make 
a further one, and the court waited till a late hour, till it was com- 
posed and sworn ; the Attorney-General was then called upon, who 
declined to answer these affidavits; the court then certainly concluded 
it was to hear no more of the collecting of materials for this motion, 


but that it should go on and be argued like ©very other of the same 

It is said the rule of court, with respect to moving for new trials, 
does not extend to cases tried at bar, in the city of Dublin ; that 
does not apply to this case, for the reason before mentioned, that 
within four days judgment would be pronounced ; so that from the 
nature of the thing, this motion must be made within four days. 

See what consequences would follow, from the letting in affidavits 
pending a motion of this kind ; there is not an argument to be used 
by the counsel on either side, that would not lay the foundation for a 
new affidavit, so that a motion would never have an end. 

We are all of opinion, that it would introduce confusion into the 
practice of the court and be a pernicious precedent, and that the 
affidavits cannot be read. 

[Here there took place some altercation upon the question of 
practice, who should first go on ; the traverser's counsel insisting, that 
the affidavits prima facie entitled them to their motion, and that the 
usual practice of giving the last word to the crown did not extend to 
a motion of this kind ; but the court, upon the authority of the King 
against Home, desired the defendant's counsel to proceed in support 
of the motion.] 

Mr. Fletcher. — This is a prosecution highly interesting, not only to 
that most respectable individual (for so I shall continue to call him, 
notwithstanding the verdict), but who is the immediate object of it, 
also to the community at large ; it is a great prosecution directed upon 
solemn and deliberate grounds, to attain the ends of public peace and 
public justice ; the court will scrutinise into a verdict that affixes the 
guilt of a high misdemeanor on a character so respectable ; the only 
end of such prosecutions must be to deter others from the commission 
of similar crimes, and to satisfy the public mind, and to convince the 
world that guilty practices do not go unpunished ; it therefore becomes 
necessary, that such a verdict should be free from the shadow of 
objection, otherwise so far from having the salutary effect proposed, 
it might have a very different one ; men will scan the ground upon 
which such verdicts have been had ; points of practice, and objections 
inter apices jurU — amongst the quirks and pranks of the law — will then 
vanish, and the public will stamp reprobation on a verdict obtained 
under circumstances of suspicion and unfairness. 

The affidavits, on which we ground our motion, are now to be taken 
as true as the gospel, the verity of them cannot be shaken ; the 
gentlemen concerned with the prosecution have been called on to 
answer them, and have not done it ; these affidavits then furnish three 
objections to the verdict. 

1st. As to the person upon whose evidence alone (upon the face of 
your lordships' notes) the verdict could be sustained, two or three 
affidavits go pointedly to show that he is utterly destitute of credit. 

2d. There is another class of affidavits impeaching one of the jurors 
for deep malignity conceived against my client. 

3d. There is that of the traverser himself, who swears that the 
testimony of the witnesses was false, and further that he has reason 
to believe that the person, who arrayed the pannel, did it through 
favour, and purposely chose* men hostile to him and to his principles. 


Now even if any one of these grounds taken separately, were not 
sufficient to shake the verdict, it becomes a matter of high concern 
to see whether the result of the whole does not, at the least, furnish 
a doubt that justice has not been done ; if so, it brings it within the 
great principle upon which alone new trials should be granted* It 
cannot be expected that a case should be found, apposite in every 
minute particular ; the present case has a good deal of novelty, and 
I cannot find any accurately agreeing with it ; but you have the high 
authority of that luminary of the law, Lord Mansfield, thus declaring 
himself in the case of Bright and Enyon, 1 Bur. " If we have 
reason to think that justice has not been done, we will send it to 
another examination." It is upon such broad principles that I go, 
and if that was the opinion of his lordship, in a civil action, between 
man and man, with how much greater reason should it be so in a 
trial between the sovereign of the land and so respectable a citizen, 
who is accused of violating the laws of that land, to which it was his 
duty to be amenable. Will any man in his right reason say, that the 
great broad liberal principle should not be applied a fortiori to a case 
of this kind, where the liberty of the subject is at stake, with all thai 
he holds dear— where the public peace, and the opinion the world 
may entertain of public justice, are involved. 

Taking it then for granted, that this principle applies at least as 
strongly to criminal cases, as to civil, there are abundance of autho- 
rities in the books — [Here he apologised for not being better prepared, 
having only got his brief on his way to court] — In Bac. tit. New 
Trials, there is a case where new evidence was let in, and it is true, 
there are in the same page, cases where it was refused ; what con- 
clusion is to be drawn from this, but that every case of this nature 
stands upon its own peculiar foundation, and is not to be strictly 
governed by any decided case, because when it is not a question of 
abstract law, but a consideration emanating and flowing from a 
combination of circumstances, never the same in any two cases, it is 
of all questions that can come before a court of common law, that 
most peculiarly within its own sound judicial discretion. That can be 
gathered from reporters, differing in attention and ability, and in some 
broad principles of general analogy. Wherever there is any strong 
leading feature in the case, it must be judged of according to its own 
tendency and effect; it is apparently from the oscitancy of the 
reporters, from their being unacquainted with the facts, and for want 
of more correct and particular notes, that we find so much seeming 
contradiction, otherwise we should find the opinions of the judges 
nearly the same in all similar cases, but varying with the peculiar 
circumstances of each particular case ; as in the present, the verdict 
certainly would not be set aside, unless it appeared that the new 
evidence came to the parties' knowledge since the trial. 

But there is a circumstance which, in my opinion, pointedly dis- 
tinguishes this from all other cases, viz^ that the new evidence is 
applicable to the credit of the principal witness, upon whose testimony 
the verdict must have been found, and not to any substantive matter, 
making a particular ingredient in the case. Nor is it a new substan- 
tive defence. For the court has wisely said, we will not set aside 
verdicts on account of evidence, which might reasonably have come 


to the knowledge of the party before ; for then, whenever the point 
upon which he rested proved insufficient, he would next shift his 
ground, and try some new sort of defence. 

Having often searched for cases of this kind, I can say, upon my 
recollection, that there is none like the present to be found. Your 
lordships then have no guide but your own discretion, and your own 
notes to recur to, where you will see in what point of view this 
gentleman's evidence appeared. 

At the trial, he admitted that two bonds had been set up by his 
younger brother against his elder, which he was called to prove, as a 
subscribing witness. He admitted that the genuineness of these bonds 
had been the subject-matter of suits in courts of justice ; that both his 
father, in his life-time, and since his death his eldest brother, had 
impeached the authenticity of these bonds, to which he had signed his 
name as a witness. He admits an issue out of Chancery to try their 
authenticity : but they went down, and were the subject-matter of a 
trial ; but that some compromise being mentioned, a juror was with- 
drawn, and the matter submitted to referees, who gave only £200 
instead of £800, which was the value of the bonds. He was asked 
whether he was examined at the trial, to prove the validity of these 
bonds. His answer was, I cannot charge my memory with these facts ; 
a pretty extraordinary answer from one who, in other respects, has 
been so accurate. Since the commencement of this business, he has 
got a commission by the good offices of a lady, who was his relation, 
and before that, he had no business nor profession. 

Thus did the testimony of this witness, who alone attempted to 
bring the publication home to the traverser, appear extremely suspi- 
cious, even upon his own examination. It will appear upon your 
Lordship's notes, that a gentleman from the same neighbourhood, was 
afterwards asked : Is such a person to be credited upon his oath ? He 
answered, it was a very hard matter to say ; but made use of the 
words, " I might hesitate." Another was examined. What did he 
say ? " It is a very hard question — I know but little more than what 
happened on the trial, where he was examined. I would, for my own 
part, give him very little credit" But being pressed again, he said 
he did not think himself warranted to say, he was not to be credited, 
from any particular knowledge of his own. A very respectable 
witness, of the other sex, was then called, who said she would not 
credit him upon his oath. She was cross-examined in a manner 
which plainly showed that the conductors of the prosecution were 
aware that the character and credit of the witness was to be impeached, 
and by whom it was to be impeached, and yet have been able to bring 
forward nothing to support it. This lady was asked, if there was any 
particular infidelity which she had to complain of in the witness ? She 
answered, that he had a brother who was married to her daughter, 
whom he had endeavoured to seduce from his wife. This, however, 
not proving sufficient at the trial to discredit the witness, I trust we 
shall now be allowed to bring forward the new matter, which has 
since come to our knowledge, in corroboration, explanation, and illus- 
tration of what passed there. 

The hair-dresser charges the witness with direct perjury. He states 
that he knew him, and dressed his hair for a length of time, and sued 


him for the debt thereby incurred, in the Court of Conscience, where 
the other, on his oath, denied that he had ever seen him, or that he 
ever knew his name, although the hair-dresser swears to a conversation 
that passed between them that day on Essex-bridge ; there has been time 
to answer that affidavit, it remains, however, uncontradicted ; therefore 
I am entitled to take it as true, and it ought to have as much weight 
as that of the most dignified person in the state. It is the same thing 
as if this witness had been called upon the table, and gone down 
without cross-examination, and then where would have been the 
evidence to support the publication ? 

There is also another witness who tells a story about a horse causey 
when Lyster made an affidavit, and therein perjured himself, by per- 
sonating and swearing in the name of his brother. 

It is true, at the trial, the jury would have been judges of the credit 
of the witnesses, but your lordships would not have passed over the 
testimony of these two men, and if you had then stated, that there was 
not a single witness but himself, to give any legal proof of publication, 
it is for your lordships to judge, whether the jury would have found 
the verdict they did ; and it is enough for me, if I can even raise a 
doubt, to use Lord Mansfield's words, in Bright v. Enyon, whether 
justice has been done. 

But it does not stand upon the ground alone of the impeachment 
of the witness ; there are two other affidavits impeaching the conduct 
of one of the jurors. Perhaps it may be argued from public con- 
venience, that when the party has not been fortunate enough to find 
evidence of this kind before the trial, upon which to challenge the 
array or the particular jurors, it is better that the individual should 
abide his misfortune, than that confusion and irregularity should be 
introduced into the jurisprudence of the country ; but I trust your 
lordships will make that consideration bend to the greater question — 
has justice been done? 

What is judicial discretion?* It is the sound application of 
judicial knowledge and good judgment to the peculiar circumstances 
of each individual case ; it is the investigation of every minute 
circumstance in a proceeding, to which sound sense and liberal 
understanding can be applied. 

But you have also the affidavits of that respectable man, of whom 
the voice of the kingdom of Ireland will say, that he would not sully 
his unspotted honor by using any unworthy artifice for the purpose of 
evading any punishment however great. 

This alone ought not to shake the verdict; but will any man attempt 
to say, that an affidavit of that kind, which has been admitted, and 
has been read, and must obtain the belief of every man in and out of 
court, will not have some weight to induce your lordships to suspect 
that justice has not been done. 

Mr. Fletcher then recapitulated the four grounds of the motion. 

1st. New evidence not discovered till after the trial. 

2d. New evidence to impeach that witness without whom (had he 
been out of the way) there could have been no verdict of conviction. 

3d. Evidence to impeach the jury. 

• See Thompson's Case as to "Judicial Discretion;** 8 Howell's, St., Tr., p. 56. 



4th. The evidence of the traverser as well to the witnesses as the 

And concluded, that it would be more becoming the officers of the 
crown to say — we will not have such a verdict as this to go abroad 
and be scrutinised in every country, where the English language 
is read. It' we cannot have a conviction consistent with justice and 
with decency, we will have none. 

Mr. Recorder, on the same side, followed Mr. Fletcher, putting the 
same arguments in a striking and varied point of view ; he observed, 
that by setting aside this verdict and sending the cause back again to 
receive a solemn, serious, and deliberate investigation, from a fair jury 
of the country, returned by a returning officer whom the traverser 
has no reason to distrust, there could not follow the smallest mischief, 
and then, if upon fair evidence laid before the court on one side and 
the other, he should happen to be convicted, that conviction would 
have the effect which was intended ; but if this verdict was to stand 
after the evidence which had appeared upon the trial, and after 
the lights which had been thrown upon it since, there is not a person 
present in the court, and believing that testimony false, that would 
not feel sorrow, to see the judgment of a court of justice so founded. 

If this gentleman had been indicted in the ordinary way, for a 
misdemeanor, he would have had an opportunity of knowing the party 
prosecuting, and the specific charge made against him. But when an 
information is filed ex officio, it is the practice of the officers of the 
crown to keep the information they receive in their pocket for their 
own justification, and the defendant is not authorised to call upon the 
crown for a copy of the examinations sworn. 

Lord Clonmel, Chief- Justice. — When this was mentioned before, 
it occurred to me that there had been an examination sworn before a 
magistrate, and he was not prevented from applying for it. 

Here Mr. Bow an appealed to Mr. Justice Downes, whether he had 
not, when before him, requested to know who the perjured villain 
was that could have sworn against him, and whether, for that purpose, 
he had not been inclined to refuse the offer of bail, choosing rather to 
go to prison, that he might know his accuser and prosecute him, (for 
he had been refused a copy of the examinations) and said, that had he 
gone to gaol then, as he was inclined, he would have been, without 
doubt, acquitted, when the former sheriffs were in office, and when 
there was not the same selection of jurors. 

Downes, Justice — Admitted that the defendant had stated nothing 
but what passed, and that he had got no information from him respect- 
ing the prosecutor. 

Mr. Recorder. — The person prosecuted, ex officio, knows nothing 
more than what appears upon the information filed, which gives him 
not the smallest intimation of the witness who is to prosecute him. 

He then made some pointed observations upon the testimony 
of Lyster, who swore that there were one or two hundred people 
walking up and down, having no seats ; and yet in the midst of 
so much confusion, he was able, from a distant gallery, to distinguish 
that gentleman's voice, which did not appear very loud, nor very 
shrill, nor very remarkably articulate, in reading a paper which 
he presumes to swear was the very paper which is the subject of this 


prosecution ; nor could he remember whether he had been examined 
some time within three years, upon so important a question as a 
forgery imputed by one of his brothers to another, and in which 
he was himself involved. 

But even if he could be supposed an honest man, his testimony was 
bad, as, to say the best, his memory and apprehensions must have 
been very defective. 

If those circumstances of discredit had not appeared upon the trial 
it might have been improper to admit them now ; but in the 
present situation of things, it would be a favour to the witness, if 
he thinks he has been slandered, to give him an opportunity of 
shewing, upon a new trial, that he is not perjured ; and as it was 
said to be an easy matter for the defendant to bring a third person 
out of this crowded and promiscuous assembly to contradict him, so 
it cannot be difficult for him to bring some individual out of a private 
gallery to support him. 

The evidence of Morton was most palpably false, for he swore that 
his uncle Giffard, to his belief, had not any thing to say to the conduct 
of the Dublin Journal, nor could he say anything of the relationship 
that subsisted between his cousin Ryan and the sheriff, who was their 
common uncle. 

And he concluded by observing, respecting the traverser, that at 
all events it would not convict him in the opinion of unprejudiced 
and moderate men, to have gone further in such circumstances than 
moderate man would go ; that the traverser, whose affidavit scarcely 
any man in the community would doubt, had sworn that the evidence 
of Lyster was false, and that the jury were prejudiced, and returned 
by a person adverse and hostile to him ; and that the public could 
not but feel horror at a sentence pronounced upon such a foundation. 

He protested solemnly, that feeling for the dignity and character 
of the administration of justice in this country, he was more inte- 
rested in the event of the present motion, than in that of any other 
in which he was ever concerned. The King had not in his dominions 
a subject more warmly attached to the constitution in church and 
state than he ; but he was, at the same time, a friend to the civil 
and religious liberties of the people. The man who goes too far in 
doing what he thinks may tend to secure these, may be censured by 
moderate men, but he will not, therefore, cease to be esteemed by 
moderate men. Mr. Rowan may, perhaps, in some instances, have 
gone too far on this subject ; but his conduct has always been known 
to originate in the best and purest motives, and there was not in 
society a man more respected, nay, admired, than he. It was, there* 
fore, essential in the highest degree, that a verdict, by which such a 
man was subjected to public and exemplary punishment, should be 
above all exception. 

Mr. Curban, on the same side. — It was an early idea, that a verdict 
in a criminal case could not be set aside, inconsulto rege, but the law 
had stood otherwise without a doubt, to impeach its principle for the 
last two reigns. 

Common sense would say, that the discretion of the court should go 
at least as far in criminal as in civil cases, and very often to go no 
further would be to stop far short of what was right, as in those great 


questions where the prosecution may be considered either as an 
attempt to extinguish liberty, or as a necessary measure for the pur- 
pose of repressing the virulence of public licentiousness and dangerous 
faction ; where there can be no alternative between guilt or martyr- 
dom, where the party prosecuted must either be considered as a 
culprit sinking beneath the punishment of his own crimes, or a 
victim sacrificed to the vices of others. But when it clearly appears 
that the party has fallen a prey to a persecuting combination, there 
remains but one melancholy question, how far did that combination 

There have been two cases lately decided in this very court, the 
King v. Pentland, where the motion was made and refused, and 
the King v. Bowen, where it was granted ; both of which shew, 
that captious sophistry, and technical pedantry, had here, as well as 
in England, given way to liberal and rational inquiry ; and that the 
court would not now, in their discretion, refuse a motion of this kind, 
unless they could, at the same time, lay their hands upon their hearts, 
and say, they believed in their consciences that justice had been done ; 
such was the manly language of one of their lordships (Mr. Justice 
Downes) ; and such the opinion of the court on a former occasion. 

He then cited 7 Modern 57- as referred to in Bacon tit. Trial, to 
shew that where there was good ground of challenge to a juror, not 
known at the trial, it was sufficient cause for setting aside the verdict. 
In England they have a particular act of parliament, entitling the 
party to strike a special jury to try the fact, and then he has time 
between the striking and the trial, to question the propriety of that 
jury ; here my client had no previous information till the instant of 
trial, who his jurors are to be. 

There are certain indulgences granted at times, perhaps by the 
connivance of humanity, which men, who are not entitled to demand 
them in an open court, obtain nevertheless by sidelong means, and 
perhaps the little breach which affords that light to the mind of the 
man accused, is a circumstance which the court would feel pain, even 
if called upon, to say, should in all cases be prevented ; but to over- 
turn principles and authorities, for the purpose of oppressing the 
subject, is what this court will never do. 

The first of the affidavits I shall consider, is that of the traverser. 
I do not recollect whether it states the sheriff, in avowed terms, to be 
an emissary or a hireling agent of the Castle, therefore do not state 
it from the affidavit ; but he swears, that he does believe that he did 
labour to bring into the box a jury full of prejudices, and of the 
blackest impressions; instead of having, as they ought, fair and 
impartial minds, and souls like white paper. 

This sheriff now stands in court, he might have denied it if he would ; 
he had an opportunity of answering it ; but he has left it an undenied 
assertion — he was not certainly obliged to answer it, for no man 
is bound to convict himself. But there is a part of that charge which 
amounts, at least, to this, " Your heart was poisoned against me, and 
you collected those to be my judges, who, if they could not be under 
the dominion of bad dispositions, might be at least the dupes of good." 
The most favourable thing that can be said is this, "you sought 
to bring against me honest prejudices, but you brought against me 


wicked ones." The very general charge, that he sought for persons, 
who he knew were most likely to bring prejudices with them into the 
jury box, is a part of the affidavit, that it was incumbent on him 
to answer if he could. 

I do not contend, that what is charged in the affidavit, would have 
been a ground of principal challenge to the array ; but hold it to be 
the better opinion, that a challenge to the array for favour, does well 
lie in the mouth of the defendant. 

The ancient notion was, you shall not challenge the array for 
favour where the king is a party; the king only can challenge 
for favour, for the principle was, that every man ought to be favour- 
able to the crown, but thank God, the advancement of legal knowledge 
and the growing understanding of the age, has dissipated such 
illiberal and mischievous conceptions. 

But I am putting too much stress upon such technical, discarded, 
and antiquated scruples. The true question has been already stated 
from the authority of Mr. Justice Downes, and the question is, Has 
justice been done ? 

It is a matter, upon which scarce any understanding would 
condescend to hesitate, whether a man had been fairly tried, whose 
triors had been collected together by an avowed enemy, whose 
conduct had been such, as to leave no doubt that he had purposely 
brought prejudiced men into the box. 

In every country, where freedom obtains, there must subsist parties. 
In this country and in Great Britain, I trust there never will be 
a time, when there shall not be men found zealous for the actual 
government of the day. So, on the other hand, I trust, there will 
never be a time, when there will not be found men zealous and 
enthusiastic in the cause of popular freedom and of the public rights. 
If, therefore, a person in public office suffers his own prejudices, 
however honestly anxious he may be for a prosecution carried on by 
those to whom he is attached, to influence him so far as to choose men 
to his knowledge, devoted to the principles he espouses, it is an error 
which a high court of judicature, seeking to do right and justice, will 
not fail to correct. 

A sheriff, in such a case, might not have perceived the partiality of 
his conduct, because he was surveying it through the medium of 
prejudice and habitual corruption. But it is impossible to think that 
this sheriff meant to be impartial, it is an interpretation more 
favourable than his conduct will allow of; if he deserves any credit 
at all, it is in not answering the charge made against him:, At 
the same time, that, by not answering it, he has left unimpeached the 
credit of the charge itself. 

[Here the sheriff tendered some form of an affidavit, which the 
court refused to have sworn or read, for the same reason that those, 
sworn and tendered by the defendant's counsel, had been before 
refused. Mr. Curran, however, consented to its being sworn and 
read ; but the Attorney-General declined it, being unacquainted with 
the contents, and uninstructed as to its tendency; it therefore was 
not sworn.] 

Mr. (Durban — Is this then the way to meet a fair application to the 
court, to see whether justice has been done between the subject and 


the crown. I offer it again, let the affidavit be read. And let me 
remind the court, that the great reason for sending a cause back to a 
jury, is, that new light may be shed upon it ; and how must your 
lordships feel, when you see that indulgence granted to the conscience 
of the jury, denied to the court ? 

Mr. Attorney-General. — I am concerned that any lawyer should 
make a proposition in the manner Mr. Curran has done ; he proposes 
to have an affidavit read, provided we consent that others, which the 
court have already refused, should be now read.* I did not hear 
it offered ; but is it to be presumed I will consent to have an affidavit 
read, about which I know nothing ? Yesterday, without any commu- 
nication with a human being, I did say, that I conceived it unnecessary 
to answer any of the affidavits, thinking that they were not sufficient 
to ground the application made to the court. And it is presumed I 
am so mad as to consent to the reading of affidavits, which I have not 

[Here some altercation took place, and Lord Clonmel, Chief- 
Justice, interposed, saying, that the counsel had certainly a right to 
argue it upon the ground, that the sheriff was biassed, and did return 
a jury prejudiced against the traverser.] 

Mr. C urban was then proceeding to observe upon the expression of 
one of the jury, sworn to in another affidavit, " That there would be 
no safety in the country, until the defendant was either hanged 
or banished." When it was asked by the court, whether the time 
of its coming to the knowledge of the traverser, that the sheriff 
was biassed, was stated in his affidavit ? 

Mr. Curran answered, he was in prison, and could not have the 
attendance of those counsel, whose assistance he had in court, and 
besides, from the nature of the circumstances, it was impossible he 
could have been sufficiently apprised of its consequences, for he saw 
not that pannel till the day of the trial, when he could not have had 
time to make any inquiry into the characters, dispositions, or con- 
nections of the jury. Mr. Curran then reverted to his argument on 
the expression of the juror. 

If triors had been appointed to determine the issue, favourable or 
not, what would have been their finding? Could they say upon their 
oaths, that he was not unfavourable to that party, against whom he 
could make such a declaration ? 

Favour is not cause of principal challenge, which if put upon a 
pleading, would conclude the party. Favour is that which makes the 
man, in vulgar parlance, unfit to try the question. And as to the 
time these facts came to his knowledge, he has sworn that he was 
utterly ignorant of them at the time of his coming into court to take 
his triaL 

I will not glance at the character of any absent noble person, high 
in office, but let it be remembered, that it is a government prosecu- 
tion, and that the witness has, from a low and handicap situation, 
scraped himself into preferment, perhaps, for I will put the best con- 

* It may not be improper to observe, that Mr. Attorney-General mistook 
Mr. Curran 's proposal, wnich was an unqualified offer to nave Mr. Giffard's 
affidavit read. 

136 TfUULL OF 

struction upon it, by offering himself as a man honestly anxious for 
the welfare of his country ; in short, it is too obvious to require any 
comment, what the nature of the whole transaction has been, that 
he had got his commission as a compensation, pro labor e impen- 
dendo, and came afterwards into court to pay down the stipulated 

Had this then been an unbiassed jury, was there not something in 
all these circumstances, that might have afforded more deliberation, 
than that of one minute per man, for only so long was the jury out ; 
and had this been a fair witness, would he have lain down under a 
charge, which if true, ought not only to damn this verdict, but his 
character for ever ? What would a corps of brother officers think of 
a person charged, upon oath, with the commission of two wilful per- 
juries, and that charge remaining undenied ? Here is an undenied 
charge, in point of fact, and although I do not call upon the court to 
say, that this is a guilty and abominable person, yet surely the sus- 
picion is strongly so, and must be considered. This was at least a 
verdict, where the evidence went to the jury under slighter blemishes 
than it will if my client has the advantage of another trial, for then 
he will put out of the power of man to doubt that this witness has 
been perjured. This witness, who has had notice, both here and at 
the trial, of the aspersions on his character, yet has not called 
a human being to say that he entertained a contrary opinion of him. 

Was he known any where ? Did he crawl unobserved to the castle? 
Was it without the aid or knowledge of any body, that that gaudy 
plumage grew on him, in which he appeared in court ? If he was 
known for any thing else than what he is stated to be, it was, upon 
that day, almost a physical impossibility, in a court-house, which 
almost contained the country, not to have found some person, to give 
some sort of testimony respecting his general character. For though 
no man is bound to be ready at all times to answer particular charges, 
yet every man is supposed to come with his public attestation of com- 
mon and general probity. But he has left that character, upon the 
merits of which my client is convicted, unsupported, even by his own 
poor corporal swearing. You are called upon, then, to say, whether 
upon the evidence of a being of this kind, such a man as that is to be 
convicted, and sentenced to punishment, in a country where humanity 
is the leading feature, even of the criminal law. 

He then observed upon the second witness. — A man coming to 
support the credit of another collaterally, is himself particularly 
pledged; then what was his testimony? He did not know whether 
Mr. Giffard was concerned in the newspaper ! And now you have 
the silence of Giffard himself, in not answering Mr. Rowan's affidavit 
to contradict that. And next, he did not know whether his own 
cousin-german was the relation of their common uncle! I call 
upon you, my lords, in the name of sacred justice, and your country, 
to declare whether the melancholy scenes and murderous plots of the 
Meal-tub and the Rye-house, are to be acted over again. And 
whether every Titus Oates that can be found, is to be called into your 
courts, as the common vouchee of base and perjured accusation. 

He then proceeded to another ground, namely, that the direction of 
the court was not, as he conceived, agreeable to the law of Ireland. 


The defence of my client (he added) was rested upon this, that there 
was no evidence of the fact of publication, upon the incredibility of 
the feet, and the circumstances of discredit in the character of the 
witness ; yet the court made this observation : " gentlemen, it scarcely 
lies in the mouth of Mr. Rowan to build a defence upon objections of 
this kind to the characters of witnesses, because the fact was public ; 
there were many there ; the room was crowded below ; the gallery was 
crowded above; and the publicity of the fact enabled him to produce a 
number of witnesses to falsify the assertion of the prosecutor, if in fact 
it could be falsified!" Is that the principle of the criminal law? Is it a 
part of the British law that the fate of the accused shall abide, not the 
positive establishment of guilt by the prosecutor, but the negative proof 
of innocence by himself? Why has it been said in foolish old books, that 
the law supposes the innocence of every man till the contrary is proved? 
How has it happened that that language has been admired for its 
humanity, and not laughed at for its absurdity, in which the prayers 
of the court are addressed to Heaven for the safe deliverance of the 
man accused ? How comes it that so much public time is wasted in 
going into evidence of guilt, if the bare accusation of a man did call 
upon him to go into evidence of his innocence ? The force of the 
observation is this, Mr. Rowan impeaches the credit of a witness, 
who has sworn that he saw him present, and doing certain acts at a 
certain meeting ; but it is asked has he substantiated that discredit, 
by calling all the persons, who were present, to prove his absence 
from that meeting, which is only stated to have existed, by a witness 
whom he alleges to have perjured himself. I call upon the example 
of judicial character ; upon the faith of that high office, which is 
never so dignified as when it sees its errors and corrects them, to say, 
that the court was for a moment led away, so as to argue from the 
most seductive of all sophisms, that of the petitio principiu 

See what meaning is to be gathered from such words ; we say the 
whole that this man has sworn is a consumate lie ; shew it to be so, 
says the court, by admitting a part of it to be true. It is a false 
swearing ; it is a conspiracy of two witnesses against this defendant ; 
well then it lies upon him to rebut their testimony, by proving a 
great deal of it to be true I Is conjecture then, in criminal cases, to 
stand in the place of truth and demonstration ? Why were not some 
of those (I will strip the case of the honour of names which I 
respect) — but why were not some of those, who knew that these 
two persons were to be brought forward and that there were to 
be objections to their credit — if, as it is stated, it happened in 
the presence of a public crowd, rushing in from motives of curiosity, 
why were not numbers called on to establish that fact? On 
the contrary, the court have said to this effect: Mr. Rowan, you 
say you were not there ; produce any of those persons with whom 
you were there, to swear you were not there ! You say it was a 
perjury ; if so, produce the people that he has perjured himself in 
swearing to have been there ! But as to your own being there you 
can easily shew the contrary of that, by producing some man that 
saw you there ! You say you were not there ? Yes. There were 
one hundred and fifty persons there ; now produce any one of those 
to swear they saw you there ! 


It is impossible for the human mind to suppose a case, in which 
infatuation must have prevailed in a more progressive degree, than 
when a jury are thus, in fact, directed to receive no refutation, nor 
proof of the perjury of the witness, but only of his truth. We will 
permit you to deny the charge by establishing the fact : we will 
permit you to prove that they swore falsely to your being there, by 
producing another witness to prove to a certainty that you were there. 

Lord Clonmel Chief-Justice. — The reasoning of the court was 
strong upon that point ; this is a transaction stated by the witness to 
have happened in open day, in a crowded assembly in the capital, 
amidst a number of persons dressed in the uniform of Hamilton 
Rowan. There has been nothing suddenly brought forward to sur- 
prise the traverser ; yet what has he done, did he offer as in the 
common course to prove an alibi ? It is stated to be at such a day ; 
the witness swears at such an hour — the place is sworn to have been 
full of people, of Mr. Rowan's friends : but if there was even a 
partial assembly, it would be easy still to produce some one of those 
persons who were present to say, that the fact did not happen which 
has been sworn to, or if you say Mr. Rowan was not there, it is easier 
still to prove it by shewing where he was ; as thus : I breakfasted 
with him, I dined with him, I supped with him, he was with me, he 
was not at Pardon's ; disprove that assertion by proving an affirma- 
tion inconsistent with it. 

Mr. Cubran. — I beg leave to remind the court of what fell from it. 
" He may call 1 ' (said the court) " any of those persons, he has not 
produced one of them ;" upon this, I think, a most material point does 
hang. " He might have called them, for they were all of his own 

Lord Clonmel. — That is, if there were such persons there ; or if 
there was no meeting at all he might have proved that. 

Mr. Curran. — There was no such idea put to the jury, as whether 
there was a meeting or not : it was said they were all of his party, 
he might have produced them, and the non-production of them was a 
"volume of evidence" upon that point. No refinement can avoid 
this conclusion, that even as your lordship now states the charge, the 
fate of the man must depend upon proving the negative. 

Until the credit of the witness was established he could not be 
called upon to bring any contrary evidence. What does the duty of 
every counsel dictate to him ; if the case is not made out by his 
adversary or prosecutor ? Let it rest ; the court is bound to tell the 
jury so, and the jury are bound to find him not guilty. It is a most 
unshaken maxim, that nemo tenetur prodere se ipsum. And it would 
indeed be a very inquisitorial exercise of power, to call upon a man 
to run the risque of confirming the charge, under the penalty of 
being convicted by nil dicit. Surely at die criminal side of this 
court, as yet, there has been no such judgment pronounced. It 
is only when the party stands mute of malice, that such ex- 
tremes can be resorted to. I never before heard an intimation 
from any judge to a jury, that bad evidence liable to any 
and every exception ought to receive a sanction from the silence 
of the party. The substance of the charge was neither more 
nor less than this ; that the falsehood of the evidence shall receive 


support and credit from the silence of the man accused. With anxiety 
for the honour and religion of the law, I demand it of you, must not 
the jury have understood that this silence was evidence to go to 
them ; is the meaning contained in the expression " a volume of 
evidence," only insinuation ! I do not know where any man would be 
false. I do not know what any man could do to screen himself from 
persecution ; I know not how he could be sure, even when he was at 
his prayers before the throne of Heaven, that he was not passing 
that moment of his life, on which he was to be charged with the 
commission of some crime, to be expiated to society by the forfeiture 
of his liberty or of his life. I do not know what shall become of 
the subject, if a jury are to be told that the silence of the man 
charged is a " volume of evidence," that he is guilty of the crime ; 
where is it written ? I know there is a place where vulgar frenzy 
cries out, that the public instrument must be drenched in blood ; 
where defence is gagged, and the devoted wretch must perish. But 
even there the victim of such tyranny is not made to fill, by voluntary 
silence, the defects of his accusation, for his tongue is tied, and 
therefore no advantage is taken of him by construction ; it cannot 
be there said that his not speaking is a volume of evidence to prove 
his guilt. 

But to avoid all misunderstanding, see what is the force of my 
objection ; is it that the charge of the court cannot receive a prac- 
ticable interpretation, that may not terrify men's minds with ideas 
such as I have presented ? No — I am saying no such thing, I have 
lived too long and observed too much not to know, that every word 
in a phrase is one of the feet upon which it runs, and how the 
shortening or lengthening of one of those feet, will alter the progress 
or direction of its motion. I am not arguing that the charge of the 
court cannot by any possibility be reconciled to the principles of law; 
I am agitating a greater question ; I am putting it to the conscience 
of the court, whether a jury may not have probably collected the 
same meaning from it, which I have affixed to it, and whether there 
ought not to have been a volume of explanation, to do away the 
fatal consequences of such mistake. 

On what sort of a case am I now speaking ? on one of that kind, 
which it is known has been beating the public heart for many months; 
which, from a single being in society, has scarcely received a cool or 
tranquil examination. I am making that sort of application, which 
the expansion of liberal reason and the decay of technical bigotry 
have made a favoured application. 

In earlier times it might have been thought sacrilege to have 
meddled with a verdict once pronounced ; since that the true prin- 
ciples of justice have been better understood ; so that now, the whole 
wisdom of the whole court will have an opportunity of looking over 
that verdict, and setting right the mistake which has occasioned it. 

Mr. Curran made other observations, either to corroborate his own, 
or to answer the opposite counsel ; of which it is impossible to give 
an exact detail ; and concluded thus : You are standing on the scanty 
isthmus that divides the great ocean of duration ; on one side of the 
past, on the other of the future ; a ground, that while you yet hear 
me, is washed from beneath our feet. Let me remind you, my lord, 


while your determination is yet in your power, dum versatur adkme 
intra penetralia Vestce y that on that ocean of future you must set your 
judgment afloat. And future ages will assume the same authority, 
which you have assumed ; posterity feel the same emotions which 
you have felt, when your little hearts have beaten, and your infant 
eyes have overflowed, at reading the sad history of the sufferings of 
a Russel or a Sidney. 

[The conclusion of Mr. Curran's speech was marked by another 
burst of applause, similar to those which accompanied his former 
exertions in this cause.] 

Wednesday, February 5, 1794. 

Mr. Attorney-General, for the crown. — My Lords, it is my busi- 
ness to offer such arguments as occur to me, to resist what has been 
advanced in favour of Mr. Rowan, upon this motion to set aside the 
verdict and grant a new trial. It is to me, my lords, a great happi- 
ness, that it has arrived at this stage, when the subject will be 
examined by the rules of legal reasoning, without an appeal to the 
passions of men, or any attempt to influence the argument by topics 
deduced from extrinsic matter. I should be sorry when I return to 
my own house, that passion should so far make me forget my reason. 
It is the duty of every man, whether prosecutor or advocate for the 
prosecuted, to promote the ends of justice, and obtain decisions upon 
argument, and argument alone. It is not the duty of counsel to 
determine the weight of argument ; they are to offer the best argu- 
ments they can ; when they pass that, they pass the bounds of duty. 

This, my lords, is said to be a verdict against evidence, because 
the credit of the principal witness was such, as that he deserved no 
credit, and that now, if the verdict be set aside, new evidence will 
be offered, since come to the knowledge of the party, further to shew 
that the witness did not deserve credit. Another ground is this, that 
the sheriff, who returned the jury, had a prejudice against the 
accused, and laboured to procure a pannei prejudicial against Mr. 
Rowan. Another ground is, that one of the jurors had expressed 
himself in a certain way, shewing he had an ill opinion of Mr. Rowan 
upon some subject or other. Such, my lords, are the grounds spe- 
cified in the notice. A further objection was made from the bar, of 
which no notice was given, namely, that one of the judges had mis- 
directed the jury. If there be any weight in it, the party by strict 
form can derive no advantage from it — but I do not confine myself 
to form ; it is my desire that this matter should be fairly inquired 
into according to the rules of law ; therefore I will observe upon that, 
and make such answer to it as occurs to me, first calling upon your 
lordships and the gentlemen in this court, for beyond that I desire 
no attention, to give me an impartial hearing. I appeal to those only 
who have knowledge of law and the rules of cool reason ; the rest is 
matter of indifference. My lords, this information was filed a year 
since against Mr. Rowan ; he was arrested upon a previous infor- 
mation which was returned to the Crown-office in Hilary Term, 1793, 
a noli prosequi was entered upon that, by reason of a mistake in 
copying one of the words, so that if brought to trial, he must have 


been acquitted without entering into the merits. Another information 
was filed ; that was pleaded to, and immediately an application was 
made to have him tried in Michaelmas Term. The court conceived 
that, consistent with the discharge of general duty, it was impossible 
to have him tried then, and this term was appointed. The pannel 
was returned to the office in the usual manner ; I have a right to say 
so, because there is no suggestion to the contrary ; and it was open 
to any man who pleased to look at it. On Wednesday se'nnight the 
record came to be tried. The jury were called at ten o'clock ; they 
were called a second time, a third time, and a fourth time ; and it 
was not till near twelve o'clock that the jury were sworn. All that 
time there was no challenge taken to the array. No application was 
previously made, no suggestion filed to have the venire directed to 
any other officer than the gentleman who returned the pannel But 
when the jurors were called to the book, several were challenged 
and a pretty general question was put to several, I do not say to all 
of them, to declare whether they had delivered any opinion upon the 
case. To that question I beg attention from every impartial man — 
they were permitted to give answers, though I rely upon it, that by 
law, in a criminal case, the party had no right to put such a question. 
So that after an hour and half s deliberation, the party knowing who 
were to be called, such as were thought proper to be questioned, were 
examined and permitted to answer. But the fairness with which this 
prosecution was intended to be conducted is manifested by another 
circumstance. A juror of the name of Dickson was actually sworn, 
and afterwards he said he had given an opinion — it was desired that 
he might be discharged. I instantly gave my consent. Mr. Curran 
desired not my consent, but that I should move it myself ; I did 
move it, because I thought it was right to have him discharged. The 
jury were then sworn and the merits were gone into. Two witnesses 
were produced, one swearing to the actual fact of publishing the very 
paper in the record ; another, who though he did not swear to the 
very paper, yet did give such evidence as, if he was worthy of 
credit, must give every reasonable man conviction, that it was the 
very same libel. Three witnesses were produced and examined to 
* the credit of Lyster, the witness for the crown ; one did not say he 
was unworthy of credit, but that he would hesitate ; another was not 
much inclined to give him belief; and it is insisted that such evidence 
was direct and positive to take away his credit, and therefore your 
lordships should set aside this verdict. The cross-examination by 
the counsel for Mr. Rowan throughout, directly and in terms, ad- 
mitted that there was a meeting that day at Cope-street, that Mr. 
Rowan was there, and that the Volunteers were there assembled ; the 
whole cross-examination went to that fact ; the dress and uniform of 
the old Volunteers, every fact was insisted upon, and it was not until 
yesterday, in a kind of joke, that the contrary was insisted upon. 
Mr. Rowan's affidavit does not deny the meeting. Away, therefore, 
with the childish observation, that a man could not be called from a 
meeting which did not appear to exist. 

I will now come to the merits of the case upon the objections made. 
There was nothing omitted which could be said for Mr. Rowan : it 
is not fit for me to say that anything was said which ought not to 


have been said. But, my lords, something was said with regard to 
the right of courts to set aside verdicts in criminal cases, not capital : 
no man disputed the right, or questioned it. Mr. Curran went into 
the history of that branch of the law and the doctrine of setting aside 
verdicts rege inconsulto ; how it was with regard to ancient times, 
I am not satisfied ; but sure I am, and so I hope it will remain, that 
this court will have a right in favour of the defendant, and in his 
favour only, to set aside a verdict against him. But the exercise of 
that great power, touching the trial by jury, must be applied according 
to the known rules of law. Mr. Curran stated that an exact instance 
was not to be found in the books, and from the hurry, I suppose, in 
which he had considered the subject, he fell into the observation that 
the practice is of so modern a date that many precedents could not 
be found : he confined it to the two last reigns ; but, my lords, the 
reports in William Ill's time are full of such applications ; the 
practice prevailed in the reign of Charles IL how much earlier I cannot 
say — there are an infinity of cases upon the subject, and he was right 
when he said there was no such case as this ; and before your lordships 
make a precedent of this, I am sure you will give it all the attention 
it deserves. I repeat the observation, that the consequence of this 
determination to the public and the administration of criminal justice, 
is of the last importance; and that, however right it is, that Mr. 
Rowan should seek redress by these means, and that every possible 
exertion should be made in favour of a man standing a culprit at 
your bar ; yet, my lords, the consideration of that man, or any other, 
let him be who he may, dwindles to a thing of no value, when com- 
pared to the general justice of the country. There can be no 
distinction here ; and here alone there is equality among subjects, 
between the highest man in the state, and the men who shout in the 
hall at the names of Titus Oates* and Algernon Sidney.f The case, 
my lords, comes then to this, whether upon the affidavits which have 
been made you should set aside this verdict ? They say these affi- 
davits are to be taken as true — I say they are not : they were made 
and produced in court in my absence. I was called — I knew no more 
of them than the man in Westminster-halL I heard them read, and 
it did strike me, that they were of such a nature, that I ought not to 
give an answer to them ; I therefore did not consent to a Rule unless 
cause, but was ready to meet the counsel at the moment. It is to be 
taken as true that such affidavits are made ; that Mr. Rowan can find 
two witnesses swearing to those facts which have been mentioned ; 
but it cannot be taken as true that those alleged facts are true ; it is 
not for your lordships to say they are true or false ; nor if witnesses 
were found to say that what has been stated respecting Perrin was 
false, could you determine that ? but whether you send it back to see 
whether a jury would give them credit or not, that is what you are 
to determine ; you are to send it back to let in the same species of 
evidence which has been already adduced without success. As to 
Mr. Rowan's affidavit, he swears to something he heard, and something 

* See Oates's Trial ; 10th Howell's St. Tr. ; and the trials connected with the 
Popish Plots, 6 and 7 Howell's St. Tr. 
t Sidney's Case, 9 Howell's St. Tr. p. 817. 


he believes — that must be taken as true; that is, that he heard 
something and that he believes it — if that were a ground for a new 
trial, verdict may be had after verdict. Something has been spread 
abroad, that your minds might be influenced by something without 
doors — a thing impossible. Let the cry be what it may by the sedi- 
tions and the turbulent, the whole will be thought of rightly on a 
future day. What has been said cannot influence you, who will 
determine according to the rules of law. It is desired that you will 
set aside this verdict, that evidence may be given to show Lyster is 
not worthy of your credit. Gentlemen have argued this case, cer- 
tainly of the first talents and ingenuity, some of them have had as much 
experience in these matters as any gentleman who has the honour 
of wearing a bar gown ; but I must say some little things fell from 
them, which were rather extraordinary ; one gentleman said he 
had only got his brief the night before ; another said he had got his 
on his way to court ; but they knew the affidavits were to be made, 
they heard them read the day before ; something was said of a case 
which had M. S. opposite to it in the margin. I believe there are 
not many gentlemen who could recollect cases in the books cited 
as from manuscript cases, and quote them as such from memory. 
I have used great diligence upon the subject, and agree with Mr. 
Curran, there is not one to be found. You are desired to set aside 
the verdict, because the witness was not to be credited. Who made 
you judges of that ? Are you the guardians of the lives, the liberties 
and the properties of the people ? Which of you determines the 
credit of the witnesses ? I have sat at my lamp the most of the 
night and have found nothing like this. But I will, for a moment, 
suppose what I do not admit, that it might be a ground for setting 
aside the verdict: bring it to the test of reason, bring it to the 
bar of sense where it should be tried. You are to set aside a 
verdict, to let in evidence to the credit of a witness, when his credit 
was impeached ; witnesses were examined to his credit, and so 
strong say they was the evidence against him, that it ought to 
have destroyed his credit. The case was made, witnesses were ex- 
amined, and the whole was left to the jury. For, my lords, it is 
a sad mistake which has been sent abroad, that because one witness 
says another is not to be believed, that therefore, what the first says 
is true. Are the jury to give up all the circumstances? Their 
own observation to the opinion of another man perhaps as much 
prejudiced as any? But here the matter was examined ; they 
were prepared with evidence to the history of this man's life, 
and after a verdict is had upon that, some men are picked up in 
the streets to give some evidence, that is, that they do not believe 
the witness, to eke out a ground for setting aside the verdict, in 
a case where the objection has been already made and already 
tried. Here incidentally let me observe upon another part of the case. 
The verdict is against evidence, because the witnesses were not to be 
believed : there is no man so young at the bar as not to see the 
futility of such an argument : a man may have discredited himself 
upon various occasions, and yet may give such testimony, accom- 
panied with other circumstances, as shall entitle him to belief, though 


a thousand should oppose him.* " My Good Lord Primate of Armagh 
do you know Mr. Lyster ?" " I do, I have known him concerned in 
many transactions of a base nature, he is not to be believed." What? 
if that was sworn to by that saint upon earth, shall the positive 
swearing discredit the testimony though it be accompanied with 
circumstances which speak its truth ? Can that be law ? I hope not, 
for it is not reason. There are cases which say a verdict shall not be 
set aside, though an incompetent witness has been examined, who was 
not known to be incompetent at the time. That is a stronger case 
than the present, and applies to the ground of objection with respect 
to the jury. Turner v. Pearte, 1 Durnf., and East, 717. Wright v. 
Littler. 3 Bur. 1244.f Here I must trespass upon your lordships time 
to take notice of another observation. It is insisted that you ought the 
rather to let him in, because this was an information filed ex officio by 
the Attorney-General, by which he was deprived of an opportunity 
of knowing the witness against him, and consequently that though in 
ordinary cases a new trial ought not to be granted upon that ground, yet 
here it ought. The gentleman who made this observation, was here 
again a little hurried, for if he had reflected one moment, he would 
see that the cases are precisely the same. The party in an indictment 
has no right to see the examinations till trial, and sometimes not even 
then. In an information he has no right to see them. So that 
whether it be an information or an indictment, he is alike forbid to 
see the examination. If he be prosecuted by indictment, the examina- 
tion will be returned to the crown-office. If by information, the 
examinations are put into the same crown-office on the first day 
of the term. It was said that in the case of an indictment, what was 
sworn could be known. All that could appear would be that some of 
the grand jury might forget their oaths and disclose the secrets of the 
prosecution, though they are especially sworn not to mention what 
appears upon the examinations.^ This observation was made without 
thought, therefore, and could not have been made for any good 
purpose with respect to this motion ; it was made for nothing but to 
impress the people with an idea that there has been severity or 
oppression in this case, not allowable, and that the subject has been 
put under difficulties, not occurring in the ordinary course of justice. 
But upon a cool enquiry it will be found that the manner of proceed- 
ing makes no difference in the case. If there be any way by which 
the informations in the crown-office can be got at (I hope there 
is not) he might have made use of that ; but Mr. Rowan was apprised; 

* As to what shall be deemed sufficient to derogate from the credit of a witness, 
See Oates Trial, Howell 10, p. 1 185 ; Canning's Case, Howell 19, pages 454 and 
009 ; Murphy's Case, Howell 19, p. 719 ; and the case of Catherine Nairn and 
Patrick Ogilvie, Howell 19, p. 1268. 

f Lister v. Mundell, 1 Bos and Pull, 429. In this case the court said that 
" though unusual to grant a new trial on evidence contradicting the testimony on 
which the verdict had been obtained, discovered subsequent to the trial, vet as the 
very fact on which these witnesses had formed themselves were falsified by 
the affidavits produced, they thought it afforded sufficient ground for a new trial. ' 

J See the grand jury oath in Shaftesbury's case, Howell 8, 759 ; and the 
extract from Burnet in the note on that case ; Ibid. 772, note ; case of the 
Regicides, Howell 5, 972, note ; Raynard's case, Howell, 14, p. 477. 



he came here with witnesses to trace facts happening at various times ; 
he put his defence on that. Mr. Lyster's name was inserted in the 
papers, and it was notorious for many months that he was the man. 
But I disclaim that, your lordships have no right to know it, but you 
know that Mr. Rowan came prepared with witnesses against him. 
Another observation occurs. I will suppose, what I never will 
admit till a solemn decision is had, that the objection made on account 
of the want of credit would be a good ground for setting aside 
the verdict, even after that credit had been examined to, or provided 
no witness was found to come forward, yet you cannot entertain this 
motion, for the knowledge of the existence of the evidence since the 
trial is not sworn to. Mr. Rowan has made an affidavit that he did 
not know it ; that affidavit is to be taken as true — I believe he did 
not. But he appeared by attorney, he defended by attorney, and it 
is not sworn even to his belief, nor has his attorney sworn, nor 
is there a syllable to tell you that those concerned for him were not 
apprized of the fact. If these affidavits be admitted, there is nothing 
to be done but conceal everything from the party, to keep back that 
which may eventually serve the motion for a new trial, in case of any 
thing against him. I feel that if this were an ordinary case, the bare 
statement of the fact would drive the motion out of court ; the fact 
has been enquired into by the jury ; notwithstanding what has been 
said of the witness, he may have told the truth, and it is impossible it 
should be otherwise. 

The other objection is that one of the jurors did not stand indifferent; 
a ground of challenge which was not taken, and not having been 
taken, the verdict shall be set aside and the party have a new trial. 
The statute law has directed that in treason the party shall have 
a copy of the pannel a certain number of days ; in no other case has 
the party such a right, he is to take his challenge as the party comes 
to the book ; that is the law of the land, that has been the simple law 
under which our ancestors lived happy for ages, by which juries have 
been chosen and formed, who have for ages protected everything dear 
to Britons and Irishmen ; and now, for the first time, I will be bold 
to say, in any criminal or civil case, the verdict is to be set aside 
because there lay a challenge to a juror, not known to the party at 
the time of the verdict. I will suppose that there was a principal 
cause of challenge to this man ; no instance of such a case can be 
produced where that was a ground for a new trial ; there is no 
necessity to examine further into the circumstances; there is no 
cause of challenge now stated — What is it? There was an illumi- 
nation in Dublin last August, when the juror and Atkinson fell into 
conversation of and concerning — What ? the libel calling the citizens 
to arms? No such thing — But an illumination takes place for the 
capture of a town, they fall into a conversation about the Volunteers 
in general, in which the juror said, the country could not prosper 
unless Hamilton Rowan and Napper Tandy were hanged or trans- 
ported ; not a syllable respecting the matter in hand — Not one word of 
this matter. Would that be a cause of challenge to a iuror ? Most 
undoubtedly not — and the man who used the expression, supposing 
he did use it, gave no cause of challenge, and now, though the eleven 
others agreed in that verdict, you are to send it back to a new trial — 


For what? to have two triors sworn to ascertain whether Mr. Perrin 
was a person to be challenged or not. The juror gave an opinion of 
different men upon a political subject. What man is there who has 
not given an opinion upon such a subject ? If there be, he is cold 
to the interests of his country. But does it apply, that the man using 
such expressions is not competent to meet a question of facts upon 
evidence before him, though the party may be concerned in a par- 
ticular measure not agreeing with his opinion. I may think the 
conduct of a man dangerous ; I may speak of the consequences of 
his conduct as I think. But does it follow that such a man passing 
a verdict upon his oath upon the examination of witnesses to a 
particular fact, is therefore to be unfavourable to the person of whom 
he had entertained the opinion ? Was there a single allusion to the 
matter in question ? It is not a cause of challenge to a man, that he 
has delivered an opinion upon the very subject; he must have done 
it through malice and with an improper view ; and the reason is, that 
an honest man, may deliver an opinion upon what appears before 
him, concerning which, when examined, he may have a different 
opinion ; even upon the subject itself, it must be clearly shewn, that 
the opinion was unfair or malicious, 2 Salk. 589.* But see what is 
desired ; suppose it a cause of challenge, suppose it a principal cause 
of challenge, then, my lords, I submit, that the verdict should not be 
set aside ; because, by law the challenge must be taken, if to the 
array, before a juror is sworn ; if to the polls, it must be as each man 
comes to the book. — So very strong is it, that after one juror is sworn, 
the law will not allow a challenge to the array ; and yet where would 
be the difficulty? but such was the simplicity of our ancient law, 
that it would not allow it, Hob. 235.f And now, my lords, after the 
party has taken all the advantages which he could take, asking 
questions he had no right to ask, putting aside a juror actually sworn, 
after having the advantage of every thing which he could desire ; 
you, my lords, and the people, (for they are appealed to upon a 
judicial trial !) have been told, that this trial was carried on by cruel 
and unjust means, and you are desired to set aside this verdict, upon 
matters, suggested in these affidavits, respecting a juror, which was 
no cause of challenge, upon a supposed conversation, as it seems to 
me, touching the Volunteers, probably over a bowl of punch, and not 
about the subject of any trial. 

I now come to the third objection, that the sheriff has been partial : 
Mr. Rowan swears, as to his belief, that the sheriff has an office under 
government — is a militia officer, and conductor of a paper, commonly 

* There is no such doctrine in Salkeld. It is presumed the reference is to 
Hawkins. " It hath been allowed a good cause of challenge, on the part of the 
prisoner, that the juror hath a claim to the forfeiture, which shall be caused by 
the party's attainder, or conviction ; or that he hath declared his opinion beforehand 
that the party is guilty, or will be hanged, or the like. Yet it hath been adjudged, 
that if it shall appear that the juror made such declaration from his knowledge 
of the cause, and not of any ill will to the party, it is no cause of challenge ;" 2 
Hawkins 578, 8th Ed. ; but see Cooke's case 13 Howell's St. Tr. p. 338. 

f Vicars v. Langham, Hobart's R. 235, 5th Ed. The words in the report are, 
" And note, that in this case there were none sworn before the challenge, but only 
impannelled. But if the principal pannel do once appear full, then the challenge 
must be taken to the pannel before any be sworn, or else it comes too late." 


called a government newspaper — that the sheriff is prejudiced against 
him — and that the pannel was returned by Mr. Giffard, or his sub- 
sheriff, and that he laboured to return a pannel which he either knew 
or believed to be prejudiced against Mr. Rowan. If the affidavit has 
any meaning, it means this, that there lay a challenge to the array, 
for that the sheriff was partial, and procured a jury for the purpose 
of convicting Mr. Rowan. He is not pleased to inform your lordships 
when he heard of these facts, or when he first formed his belief. 
This was not omitted from want of recollection in himself, or those 
who advised him ; because, in his affidavit touching the evidence, he 
takes care to tell you, that he did not hear of it till after the trial ; 
ao that it does not appear that Mr. Rowan was not apprized of this 
when the jury came into the box — when the venire issued — when the 
trial at bar was moved for in Michaelmas term, or when he put in 
his plea — look at the situation in which your lordships stand — look 
at what precedent you are called upon to make — you let the man take 
his trial, with an objection in his possession that may set aside all the 
proceedings, and he declines to make it — the party is to be tried by a 
jury — he submits to the jury, for he made no challenge, he is found 
guilty, and now he says, I had a cause of challenge, I took my chance — 
send me to another trial, that I may make it. My lords, I would 
almost ask, is this decent ? the law protects every man, gives him a 
right to have a fair jury, the law points him out the way, and he is 
not to overbound those limits, to do that which has not been done 
since the days of our Saxon ancestors. He knew these facts, that 
Giffard was sheriff, that he was an officer in the militia, that he had 
a place in the revenue — what had he to do ? Mr. Rowan had able 
counsel, men of the first talents and information — his remedy was 
easy and without delay or expense — why not come in here and sug- 
gest the facts ? If he had, the venire would have gone to the other 
sheriff, and Giffard could not have meddled. But mayhap the other 
sheriff is partial — suggest that then, and if the objection be well 
founded, the venire will go to the coroner. If the objection would 
not be sufficient for that purpose, it cannot be sufficient for this pur- 
pose ; but it is said he was not aware of this suggestion ; I will not 
impute it to the counsel — Mr. Rowan must have been aware of it 
when they came into the box — why not challenge the array ? He 
forgot to do that, till one of them was sworn ; then why not challenge 
for favour ? Where are these men who have told him these stories ? 
Why do they not make affidavits ? Why does he take a chance for 
a verdict, knowing these facts ? Having taken his chance, he now 
calls upon you to set aside the verdict upon that. Make that example, 
my lords, and you overset the criminal law, that which is the guar- 
dian of our lives and properties, and you make it depend upon the 
art, design, and knavish conduct of those concerned. The objection 
is founded upon the conduct of the sheriff; that conduct was known 
previous to the trial, therefore I rely upon it, that this verdict ought 
not to be set aside ; and if it be, it will be an example big with dan- 
gerous consequences. It has been said, Mr. Giffard did not answer 
the affidavit's, and therefore they must be taken as true — Mr. Rowan 
believes what he has sworn, but are the facts true still ? No. He 
might have produced persons to prove the facts — Giffard has not 


answered the affidavits, it was offered to let him answer ; but yon 
must put that out of the case ; whether he be ready to answer them 
or not, I do not know, and I do not care. I at once said to the 
gentlemen, I meet you on your own ground — Giffard could not make 
an affidavit in this case, he may make one extrajudicially if he 

I come now to the other objection, which they had no right to 
make — the misdirection of the judge: the eloquent gentleman applied 
it as pleasantly as any serious subject could be applied ; the whole 
was sophistry or joke. He imputed this to one of your lordships, 
that the jury were to find against Mr. Rowan, because he did not 
shew that the facts did not happen, where so many persons were 
present. Your lordships best know what the observations you made 
were. The trial stood thus, witnesses were examined for the prose- 
cution — witnesses were examined to discredit these, which is always 
matter for the jury : there was clear evidence of the guilt of Mr. 
Rowan, if they believed the witnesses ; but witnesses were produced 
to discredit the first The jury were to consider how far the opinions 
of those persons were to have weight, and every circumstance was to 
be taken into consideration. It was taken as true, that there was a 
meeting, that Mr. Rowan was present at the meeting, and the ques- 
tion was, whether he published such a paper there ? If there was 
such a meeting, and he was there, it must occur to every person, that 
if he wanted to discredit the witnesses, it could be best done by 
shewing that he did not publish the paper. It was a judicial inquiry 
into a question of fact, and it was a proper observation, suggesting 
itself to the mind of any honest judge, to say, you are to consider, 
here there was a meeting ; if you believe that there is not a witness 
produced from this number to contradict the evidence, it was a 
natural observation, but no direction was given to the jury ; your 
lordships gave your opinion upon the libel, whether right or wrong is 
not the enquiry : there are few reasonable men, who have read or 
shall hereafter read that paper, who will not feel that it was the most 
dangerous and seditious libel, published at the time it was, that ever 
came from the press. But your lordships told the jury, that notwith- 
standing what you said, they were to form their own opinion ; I do 
not rely upon the want of notice, but upon a full and fair discussion, 
let this case be decided as the law admits. One topic more remains, 
my lords, I should never touch upon it, if so much had not been said 
about it, more than ever was known to pass from the lips of counsel 
— I speak of Mr. Rowan's own affidavit, and the credit to be given 
to it, I am not to speak of the credit given to any man, it is not my 
province ; but it is the first time I ever heard, that a man swearing 
to his own innocence should affect the determination of a judge in a 
criminal case. A great press was made upon this : we were told — I 
know not what — and what if I did know, I choose not to repeat — of 
the consequences that might attend a belief of this gentleman's affi- 
davit : I am not apprehensive of any consequences from it: the public 
mind is tranquil upon subjects, and whatever tumult or noise is made 
by the little mob behind me, or any where else, for a few hours, or a 
few days, the learned and the good will see, that the case has been 
determined upon the known rules of law, and that justice has been 



administered to this gentleman, as to every other. But the fact is not 
as it has been insinuated ; he has not sworn to his innocence ; he has 
not sworn, that if the verdict be set aside, he has a good cause of 
defence. He swears generally, that the testimony of the witnesses is 
not true ; not a syllable with regard to his innocence. I desire to 
infer nothing from this ; but I desire that nothing may be inferred 
from what he has sworn, to what he has not sworn. It is said, he is 
a gentleman of great worth, I know him not, I dare say he is ; if he 
be, it may furnish some deduction, that there was something which he 
could not deny ; I desire not to press it further, that affidavit can have 
no weight in the disposal of this case, and I feel sensible, that the 
time will come, when it can have no effect upon the people. But be 
their opinion what it may, be the consequence what it may — Fiat 
justitia — ruat caelum. 

Mr. Solicitor-General, same side. — My lords, I was in hopes it 
would not be necessary for me to address you. This is the sixth day 
that this subject has taken up the time of the court, it is impossible 
not to feel it as trespassing much upon your time. The subject has 
been magnified into consequences not necessarily belonging to it ; 
you have heard this case with dignified patience and with dignified 
attention, with an exemplary degree of temper, not disturbed by the 
efforts of unbridled eloquence. It is impossible to escape your lord- 
ship's wisdom, that by the late act of parliament there was a latitude 
given to the jury upon the subject of libels. The learned gentleman 
who laboured this argument, went into an investigation of the facts 
very briefly. He, in an argument of three hours or more, a few days 
ago, scarcely took up ten minutes in the investigation of facts ; he 
has fastened the fact of publication " round the neck of his client ;" 
that publication was a calling to arms to introduce a reform in the 
representation of the people, and an emancipation of the Catholics. 
He said the present publication was the " honest effusion of a manly 
mind." Instead of disclaiming the publication, the learned counsel 
has made a " wreath of it to decorate the brows of his client." This 
motion is to set aside the verdict. In 3 Wils. 45. Swaine v. Hall 
Lord Chief Justice Wilmot said " there was a contrariety of evidence 
on both sides ; and although I am still of opinion that the weight 
of evidence was with the plaintiff, yet I disclaim any power to 
control this verdict of the jury, who are the legal constitutional 
judges of the fact." 

My lords, I forbear to follow the learned counsel for the defendant 
through the vast variety of matter which he has introduced upon the 
occasion of the trial, with a degree of boldness and freedom, that was 
very unusual to my ear, scarcely admissible in any assembly, the 
most popular known to the country. There was another circum- 
stance, I beg to put to your lordship's mind ; in the progress of the 
cross-examinations, it appeared, that at the meeting in Cope-street, 
there was a new species of men, under the cloak of old Volunteers, 
with new devices and new badges of sedition, as a harp divested of 
the royal crown.* It was most industriously pointed out, that they 

• No such fact appeared, or was asserted, on the direct or cross-examination 
of any of the witnesses. 


were the antient Volunteers. The witness said the men were 
dressed in scarlet turned up with blue, yellow, &e. Here was a 
declaration of the fact, that there was a meeting : give me leave to 
ask, was that fact capable of disproof, namely, was there a meeting 
of Volunteers in Cope-street ? Did that fact rest on the testimony 
of an incredible witness ? The fact happened thirteen months ago ; 
there was full opportunity to collect materials, to disprove what was 
sworn to, with regard to that meeting. Was it not competent to Mr. 
Rowan to discredit the man if his evidence was untrue, to prove 
there was not a meeting on the 16th December, 1792, of Volunteers 
at Pardon's ? That no man appeared there with side arms, or did 
wear those badges of sedition. Was it capable of disproof ? Not 
one of the 150 persons have been brought to disprove the evidence of 
Lyster, that there was such a meeting. There is not an affidavit to 
prove the innocency of the party accused, that he did not publish the 
paper in question. My lords, is this a case in which your lordships 
can say, you are dissatisfied with the verdict ? Or that case in which 
the court can say, that justice has not been done ? It was said, that 
it will do no harm to send this case back to another investigation ; 
but, my lords, can you send it back, without deciding upon the credit 
of witnesses, which it is the province of the jury to decide upon? 
Give me leave to observe, upon the concurring evidence of Morton ; 
he does not go to the collateral part of the case, he goes to the very 
principal part, namely, the publication of the paper ; he was able to 
repeat part of the paper (which he said was read) by memory, viz, 
" Citizen soldiers, to arms." 

This verdict is sought to be set aside, in order to give the defendant 
an opportunity of being able to find more witnesses against the credit 
of Lyster, when he has already ransacked the province of Connaught 
for evidence. 

If you do set aside the verdict, upon the ground of these affidavits, 
you do not give Lyster an opportunity of vindicating his character, 
which has been depreciated on the present occasion. 

This verdict is sought to be set aside upon the ground of the chal- 
lenge to the jury. I am bold to say, there is not a single authority in 
the law books to shew where a verdict has been set aside for matter 
of challenge. If the juror was competent at the time, you will not 
set the verdict aside for challenge to the jury. There are authorities 
which do say, that a challenge for competency is not a ground for 
granting a new trial.* 

As to the objection, that the sheriff was partial ; a sheriff is the 
returning officer intrusted by law ; if Mr. Rowan had suggested the 
objection at the time, before any of the jurors was sworn, no doubt 
your lordships would have postponed the trial, or issued a venire 
to the coroner; on this ground therefore this motion cannot be 

Much has been said about the liberty of the press ; the best mode to 
preserve the freedom of the press, is to curb its licentiousness. The 
most popular character that ever existed in England, Lord Camden, 
on the decision of a case mentioned in the 11th volume of the State 

* Complete Juryman, p. 262, et seq; chapter on new trials. 


Trials 1 122, gave his opinion on the dangerous consequences of libels ; 
he said, that they excited discontent against the government, and 
tended to destroy the liberty of the press by its licentiousness, 
and said that the worst government was better than no government 
at all* 

It has been a fortunate event for this country, that this matter has 
been brought to trial. If, in consequence of the summons to arms by 
the publication of this paper, the people in arms had by force overawed 
the government ; if the people in arms had proceeded to act, the 
gentleman who now stands at the bar for publishing a libel and charged 
to be a misdemeanour, would be accused of high treason against the 
state ; if there had been one act of force committed, by the clamorous 
rabble, who shouted yesterday at your bar, in consequence of this 
summons to arms, it would fasten the crime of high treason upon this 
gentleman. It has been a most fortunate circumstance, that a pro- 
clamation did issue, it quelled this paper trumpet of sedition. The 
gentleman at the bar, in every other department of life, is an honour- 
able, a good, and a virtuous citizen, the friend of his country ; but he 
is a mistaken zealot in point of politics ; a mad philanthropist. 

The new scheme of searching for a Utopia, a nation perfect in 
every respect, has driven millions to their graves ; in that country 
which has, in the language of the paper in question, got the start of 

I do rejoice that this trial was had, for it has saved that individual 
character, of whom most men speak good things, and I am one of 
those, who have the honour of knowing him ; but to let him go on 
uncontrolled, might be dangerous to himself, he might pull down the 
building upon himself — he lives to look at the image of his king before 
him. He has had the most patient trial I ever knew in the annals of 
this country. 

Mr. Frankland, same side. — Every observation, every case, and 
every principle of law, has been so very fully stated by Mr. Attorney- 
General, that I feel it necessary to compress what I have to say, into 
the narrowest compass ; and after so much has been said by the 
learned gentleman who spoke last, I shall be very brief. The avowed 
personal regards for the gentleman at the bar, which the learned 
counsel have for him, have called forth the most splendid display of 
talents that has been known ; but I consider this case merely as a case 
between the king and a common traverser ; if this motive had not 
called forth the exertion of the eminent abilities of the learned 
counsel, this motion ought to have been decided in ten minutes. 

Mr. Rowan now applies to the discretion of this court upon many 
affidavits, in none of which he has stated one substantive case to make 
upon a new trial. He has made two affidavits himself, in neither of 

* The words of Lord Camden (in the case of Entick r. Carrington, 19 Howell 
8. T. 1074,) are — " All civilued governments have punished calumny with severity 
and with reason; for these compositions debauch the manners of the people; they 
excite a spirit of inobedience, and enervate the authority of government ; they 
provoke and excite the passions of the people against their rulers, and the rulers 
oftentimes against the people. When licentiousness is tolerated, liberty is in the 
utmost danger ; because tyranny, bad as it is, is better than anarchy ; and the 
worst of governments is better than no government at all." 


which he has stated, that he is not guilty of the crime charged. Upon 
these affidavits have you ground to say, first, that this verdict is con- 
trary to justice ? That the verdict was found upon false evidence, not 
deserving any credit ? 

I will admit that there is an analogy in principle, between criminal 
and civil cases ; but I will be bold to say, there is not a case in the 
books, considering the circumstances that arise in this case, where an 
application has been made for a new trial. There is no case where a 
new trial has been granted, merely because the witness produced had 
spoken falsely. However, supposing it was a ground for an application, 
then look to the circumstances attending this case. You cannot forget 
that the traverser and his counsel came prepared to impeach the 
character of Lyster. The jury, it must be presumed, have weighed the 
evidence ; they found a verdict. Do you now send back this case to 
a new trial, because the person who has sworn that Mr. Rowan did 
publish the paper at such a meeting in Cope-street, has sworn false ? 

In cases of this kind, your lordships will look with eagles' eyes. 
The court will never set aside a verdict on the ground, that a witness 
produced has sworn false. This Lyster should be indicted for perjury, 
and then these two men may bring forward the circumstances ; but it 
would be absurd to set aside the verdict against Mr. Rowan upon the 
affidavits of those two persons, who have sworn that Lyster perjured 
himself on some other particular transactions. In every application 
for a new trial, upon the allegation that evidence has been discovered 
which was not known antecedent to the trial ; an affidavit of not 
only the party himself, but also of his attorney is required. Now, 
give me leave to ask, why these grounds are stated upon this affidavit 
of Mr. Rowan himself, and not of Mr. Dowling, his attorney upon 
record ? If you should grant a new trial, when this necessary ingre- 
dient, the affidavit of his attorney, has not been complied with, would 
not every attorney in the hall, the instant he was employed to defend 
a client charging him with a misdemeanor, say to him, do you listen 
to no one ; do not enquire about your defence ; I shall shut the 
mouth of every man to you upon the subject, and go to trial, and give 
yourself a chance of a verdict of acquittal ; if you should happen to 
be acquitted, it is well, but if the verdict should be against you, 
then apply to the court to set aside that verdict, upon the ground of 
facts which I now tell you of, and which you can swear has come to 
your knowledge since the trial. Let it not be understood that I mean 
to apply that there was such a scheme between the present parties. 
No ; but I am adducing a case to the court. I would not have it 
imagined that I impute any thing in the case I have supposed, to the 
present defendant ; he is a man of honour ; but courts will decide 
upon established general rules, applicable to the case of every man. 

The notice in this case is very generally shaped : Is he to be granted 
a new trial upon the ground stated by these affidavits ? Nothing can 
be more clear than that the defendant had a knowledge that Lyster 
was to be produced against him. Lyster was examined, and wit- 
nesses were examined to discredit him. Will it be contended that 
there was not evidence for the jury to weigh and deliberate upon ? 
The verdict of the jury shews they did decide on Lyster's evidence. 
To say, therefore, that this is a verdict against evidence, is utterly 



untenable : it is not a verdict against evidence ; it comes then to this, 
is it a verdict against the weight of evidence ; will your lordships 
establish such a rule as this ? You never will interpose with the 
province of the jury ; the court will not say it was a verdict against 
the weight of evidence, the whole of the evidence did go to the jury, 
and upon that evidence the jury were competent to decide. 

As to the second ground, that some of the jury were prejudiced 
against, and at enmity with the traverser : Upon that ground I was 
told, that Mr. Curran laid down the position from a case in 5th Bacon 
which referred to 7th Modern, 57- where a challenge for favour is a 
good cause of setting aside a verdict. Supposing the case to be in 
point, yet in the present case the facts set forth in these affidavits 
would not constitute a good challenge to the poll, or to the array. 
This appears from the triors oath in Co. Lit. to determine whether 
you are bound to look to the words of this affidavit ; supposing, but 
not admitting, that the juryman did use the words mentioned six 
months before the trial ; before he was sworn, it was not a good cause 
of challenge to the poUL Suppose that six months ago, the words 
used by a juryman were these, " Mr. Rowan has committed murder," 
when the juror came to be sworn on the trial four days ago, on a 
charge for a misdemeanor, the juror might say, my mind is now dis- 
abused, I was under an error when I did speak the words mentioned, 
but I never made any declarations upon the matter in issue. The 
trior's oath is, " to enquire whether the juror stands indifferent as to 
the matter in issue between the parties." Give me leave to say, that 
by the principles of law, the court will never send a cause back to be 
tried on account of the words spoken, as charged in this affidavit, 
unless the words spoken were such as in law would be a good legal 
challenge to favour. 

The objection made to the sheriff, as returning officer, is for parti- 
ality. I was astonished when the traverser and the counsel came 
forward on a motion to set aside the verdict, because the defendant 
knew a fact, without stating when he came to the knowledge of that 
fact, which would be considered as a good legal challenge to the array. 
Is it because a man is proprietor of a newspaper, has a place in the 
revenue, and holds a commission in the militia, and he returns the 
jury — is that a good cause of challenge to the array ? But, if it has 
any weight, when did Mr. Rowan came to the knowledge of these 
facts ? Mr. Rowan could have made his objections before the trial ; 
he had a knowledge of these facts, he knew that Mr. Giffard was 
proprietor of a newspaper called a government newspaper, had a place 
in the revenue, and held a commission in the militia. He could then, 
by an affidavit, have applied to the court, stating that he could not 
have a fair trial. Your lordships would no doubt have postponed the 
trial. I do not find in the notice, any mention made relative to any 
misdirection in the judge. The court was unanimous, the whole 
matter was left to the jury, who were told that they were to judge of 
the credit they would give to the witness. Mr. Rowan's being at the 
meeting was a fact admitted ; for on the cross-examination of Lyster 
it was pressed by the counsel, that the meeting consisted of the old 
Volunteers, that their uniform was scarlet with different coloured 
facings. The fact of Mr. Rowan being at that meeting was proved 


by Morton, and he said he heard part of the paper read, as " Citizen 
Soldiers, to arms !" There were near 200 persons at that meeting ; 
that was the fact capable of disproof; if so, there has not been a 
single person produced to disprove it ; that is as a volume of evidence 
of the truth. I must say I rejoice at hearing this voluntary eulogium 
on his private character.- That has nothing to do with applying to 
your discretion to set aside the verdict, which twelve men on their 
oaths have found. This motion ought not to have taken up ten 
minutes of your lordships time. I think there is no ground to set 
aside the verdict. 

Mr. Prime- Serjeant, same side* — My lords, unless your lordships 
please, I have no desire to speak on this motion. 

Court. — As you please — use your own discretion. 

Mr. Prime- Serjeant. — My lords, I am counsel on the part 
of the Crown. This case is totally different from any case in the 
books. It is unnecessary to go into the detail of the evidence on 
which your lordships have, in fact, given your opinion. This is a 
motion made to set aside the verdict, where no evidence on the part of 
the defendant was adduced, but merely to discredit the witness 
produced on the part of the prosecution. They ask you to step out of 
your proper sphere, to judge of the credit of the witnesses, which is 
the province of the jury only to do. Where evidence has been 
adduced on both sides, the court may give their opinion to the jury, 
where the weight of evidence lies, but the jury are to determine as to 
the evidence and the credit they will give it. I should apprehend 
there would be a clamour against the court, if your lordships were to 
step off the bench into the jury box ; because the court has nothing 
to say to the credit of the witnesses. Were you to set aside this verdict, it 
would be taking away the opinion which twelve men on their oaths 
have formed, and which opinion the jury were bound by the law 
of the land to entertain. Therefore, on the ground of the verdict 
being contrary to evidence, or to the weight of evidence, in a 
case where there was no evidence on one side, there is not a man of 
common understanding that cannot say there is no ground for 
this motion. 

It is said, that a juror was prejudiced against the traverser. If 
there was any contrariety of evidence, if there was any point on 
which that prejudice was to operate, if there was any scruple of 
evidence on one side, and prejudice was to give way to that scruple, 
there might be some weight in the objection, but here there was 
nothing to exercise his prejudice upon ; there is therefore nothing in 
this objection as a ground to set the verdict aside. If five hundred 
witnesses had come forward to say, that Lyster is not to be believed 
upon his oath, it is not for the court to determine, but solely for 
the consideration of the jurors. The jury must determine whether 
Lyster was deserving of credit, or not ; even if this objection 
had more weight than it has, the door is shut upon it, as against 
the traverser. The whole of the case went to the jury, and by their 
verdict it appears, that they did give credit to what was said by 
Lyster. An issue was directed to try the validity of a deed, 
and a witness swore to the execution of the bond at a certain time 
and place. Before the trial, the defendant in the action gave notice, 



he would impeach the credit of the witness, because he was abroad at 
the time of the alleged attestation to the deed. The case went 
to trial ; there was a verdict on the evidence intended to be impeached. 
The party applied for a new trial, on affidavit, that the person was at 
a different place when the deed was alleged to have been executed. 
The court said they would not entertain the ^notion ; he ought to have 
come prepared at the trial ; we will not now give you an opportunity 
of bringing on your witnesses at a new trial.* 

With respect to the incredibility of Lyster, three witnesses were 
examined, and now your lordships are called upon to have an 
examination of Clarke, who appears to have been the hair-dresser of 
Lyster, and to let in the evidence of Mr. Coultry that Lyster does not 
deserve credit, after the examination of three witnesses to that point 
at the trial With respect to the public principles and character of 
witnesses, are they to be again enquired into, after they had gone 
through the fiery ordeal of a cross-examination ? The court would 
not permit it, after the witness had gone from the table. As to 
the general character of Lyster, it could not be gone into: evidence 
did not go to the point that he did deserve credit or not. An objection 
is made on account of the declaration of the juror; it was not a 
declaration of any opinion as to the matter in issue between the 
parties; such declarations therefore, could not be the ground of a 
challenge to the juror. 2 Hawkins 589. 

If there be objections to a juror for partiality, it would be a ground 
of challenge, if accompanied with some particular instances of malice. 
The law makes ill-will in a juror necessary to support the cause of 

The charge against the sheriff is that he did impannel persons 
prejudiced, and at enmity against the defendant; but no particular 
prejudice is mentioned in the affidavit : Mr. Rowan does state 
he heard, and believes, that Mr. Giffard is conductor of a newspaper, 
called a government newspaper, &c. It is not said that Giffard's 
labours were successful, so as to have a single person on the jury who 
was unfairly prejudiced against defendant. Mr. Rowan has not sworn 
that the pannel was absolutely composed of persons prejudiced against 
him, and such were chosen by the contrivance of Mr. Giffard ; this 
was in the nature of a challenge to the array made partially, through 
the misconduct of the returning officer. 

As to the incompetency, it is no ground to set aside the verdict; 
judge Grose says, " as to the question of competency of witnesses 
after trial, on a motion for a new trial, we are bound to reject such 
testimony now ;" though a decision of competency peculiarly belongs 
to the court. 1 Durnford and East's Reports, Y77.f 

Locke says, that where a transaction is done in open day, where 
there is a possibility of contradicting it, not contradicting it is 

• Richards p. Symes, 2 Atk. 319. 

f Justice Grose's words are, " As to the competency of the witnesses it is not 
contended that in point of law we are bound to reject their testimony now;" 
which do not appear to support the portion laid down by the Attorney-General ; 
Tomer v. Pearte, I. T. R., 720. 


an admission of the fact The observations mentioned will have 
a conclusive effect upon the mind of every man that hears me.* 
Adjourned to Friday, February the 7th, 1794. 

Friday, February 7, 1794. 

This day the court proceeded to deliver their opinions, seriatim. 

Lord Clonmel, Chief- Justice. — This is a motion made on behalf 
of the traverser, Archibald Hamilton Rowan, founded on a notice 
dated the third of February instant ; and it is to set aside the verdict 
had against him in this cause : first, as being contrary to the justice of 
the case ; as founded upon false evidence, and upon testimony not 
deserving of any credit. The second ground is, that some of the jury, 
who found the verdict, were prejudiced and at enmity with the 
traverser, and had declared that opinion before they were sworn upon 
the jury. The third ground is, because the sheriff who arrayed the 
pannel was prejudiced against the defendant, and did array the pannel 
so as to have him tried by an unfair jury. 

The motion is stated to be founded upon six affidavits, (of which I 
have copies, as have my brothers), stated to have been filed in this 
cause on the third of February, stating the nature of the case, and the 
reasons to be offered. The motion was called on that day and ordered 
to stand for the next day, when another ground of objection was made 
in the argument of the motion, or suggested by counsel, founded upon 
an observation stated from his memory, and unsupported by any oath; 
which he argued from, as if used by me in my charge to the jury ; 
which I shall take notice of in its proper place. The affidavits to the 
first point in the notice, for I have endeavoured to class them so as to 
make them intelligible to every person ; the affidavits, I say, to the 
credit of Lyster, are three : 

1st. Clarke, the peruke-maker, who is of opinion that Lyster is not 
to be credited, as he believes, because in a suit in the Court of Con- 
science he, Lyster, perjured himself, by denying any acquaintance 
with him. The next is Coultry, a gentleman, who is of the same 
opinion, because, he says, Lyster perjured himself respecting a horse, 
and made a false affidavit in the name of his brother, whom he per- 
sonated. Mr. Rowan, in one of his affidavits, for he has made two, 
also swears to the same points, that he believes, if these two persons 
had attended at the trial and been examined, this witness, Lyster, 
would have been totally discredited. That he swears is his belief, and 
I dare say, that impression is made upon his mind. And he adds 
further, that from what he and his friends are daily hearing, he has no 
doubt of proving fully, that Lyster is deserving of no credit on his 
oath. These are to the first point. Touching the second point in the 
notice, that is, the partiality or prejudice of the jury, or some of them, 
William Atkinson, a watch-maker, has made an affidavit, stating that 
in August last, on an occasion of some illumination, he had a conver- 

* It was impossible for the Editor to have obtained any correct note of the 
arguments of the Solicitor-General or the Prime- Serjeant. Their arguments 
appear to have been reported with great inaccuracy, and, as they at present stand, 
are very loose and inconclusive. 


sation with Mr. Perrin, one of the jurors, respecting the Volunteers ; 
and that, with respect to the body in general, he spoke with acrimo- 
nious language ; but particularly with respect to Hamilton Rowan ; 
that he and Napper Tandy deserved to be hanged, or the country 
would never prosper, or to that effect ; and Mr. Porter swears that, 
since the commencement of this prosecution, and before the trial, 
Mr. Perrin made use of some other expressions of the same sort ; and 
Mr. Rowan swears, that he believes that some of the jurors did, pre- 
vious to this trial, use expressions tending to asperse him, therefore 
they were heated against him, and had impressions in their minds 
unfavourable to him. 

With respect to the third point in the notice, Mr. Rowan swears he 
heard and believes that Sheriff Giffard, by whom, or by whose under- 
sheriff, the panel has been arrayed, is the conductor of a paper gene- 
rally understood to be a government paper ; that he has a lucrative 
office in the revenue, and is an officer in the Dublin militia ; and that 
he is strongly prejudiced against him, and did labour to have such a 
panel arrayed, of such men as he knew were unfairly prejudiced 
against him. These are the affidavits touching the throe grounds stated 
in the traverser's notice. And as to the general merits, Mr. Rowan 
further states, that he was present during the trial, and that he heard 
the evidence given by Lyster and Morton, charging him with having 
read, distributed and published the paper in Pardon's school, and he 
swears that said testimony is utterly false. This he positively swears 
to; but he does not, however, deny any of the particular facts 
alledged in the information against him ; as to that he is silent, and 
he undertakes to contradict no fact sworn in the evidence against him, 
but that which I have mentioned. 

Thus stand the affidavits upon which this motion is grounded. It 
may not be amiss to give a short history of this case, so far as we have 
judicial knowledge of it, in order to throw light upon the situation in 
which Mr. Rowan stood when his trial came on. He was arrested in 
consequence of the publication in question, above a year ago, and gave 
bail to that arrest, before Hilary, 1793, viz., on the 20th of December, 
1792, (I believe I am not mistaken, but it is not very material), and 
the first information, ex officio, for that is not the one on which he has 
been tried, was filed, Hilary, 1793 ; and now I speak of what passed 
in this court. On the sixth of May last, near nine months before his 
trial, in Easter Term, which ended the thirteenth of May, Mr. Emmet 
moved to vacate his recognizance : Mr. Attorney- General consented. 
Mr. Rowan and his bail appeared in court, and it was vacated, as he 
was ready to be tried upon that information : next was a motion on his 
behalf, by the Recorder of the city of Dublin, to appoint a day for his trial 
in the term following ; that motion was made in Trinity Term, but the 
Attorney- General applied to the court stating, that he had discovered an 
error in the information, and entered a noli prosequi ; accordingly no 
trial was appointed. A new information was filed, and in Michaelmas 
Term, several weeks after the city sheriffs were chosen, a trial at bar was 
moved for, and a day appointed in this present Term (the 29th January). 
On the 1 lth of November last the Attorney- General moved to amend 
the information, by striking out one of the inuendos. The Recorder 
appeared on behalf of Mr. Rowan, and said he was instructed not to 


oppose it On the 29th of January the trial was called on, and no 
challenge having been taken either to the array, or to the polls, either 
principal, or to the favour, the jury were sworn, and tried the cause. 
There were questions put to some of the jury touching their opinions, 
whether they had declared them or not, upon the matter in issue : 
one of them having said, after he was sworn, that he had given some 
opinion, he was withdrawn by consent; nor was it objected to by the 
crown lawyers ; and these questions, which are said in the books to 
tend to reproach, were asked, and not objected to. 

I must here invert the order of the points, to make it more clear, 
by following the order of time. The first objection then, is that stated 
by Mr. Rowan's affidavit to the sheriff's pannel. He swears that 
Giffard, by whom, or by whose sub-sheriff, the pannel was arrayed, 
is conductor of a newspaper, generally considered a government paper ; 
that he has a lucrative office in the revenue, and is in the militia ; and 
he believes he laboured to have such a pannel arrayed, as were pre- 
judiced against him. This I shall first consider in point of law, and 
then of hardship, as addressed to the discretion of the court. First 
then, would it have been a cause of challenge upon a demurrer? 
Clearly not ; there is nothing certain nor ascertained in it ; is it in 
law, a ground of challenge, that a man conducts, what is considered, 
a government newspaper ? What is a government newspaper in legal 
estimation ? A chimera of the brain. Is it meant to be insinuated 
that government, or the crown, to use a more proper expression, was 
at war with Mr. Rowan, or that any thing done, on the part of govern- 
ment, was to be injurious to him? I hope not; nor that any thing 
he did is to be injurious to government ; I trust not. I put it the 
other way : suppose it had been objected, on the other side, that a 
juror had published a paper called Mr. Rowan's paper, or the Free- 
man's Journal, or any paper of that kind ; would it be an objection 
that conld have any weight ? Undoubtedly not ; no denomination of 
subjects, under that general name, can furnish an objection even to 
the prosecution. 

Then again it is stated that he held an office under government, 
and was in the militia. If this were to be a disqualification, then 
mark the consequence : every sheriff in the thirty-two counties of 
Ireland at large, would be disqualified to return a pannel: which 
amounts to this absurdity, that the very grant which qualifies, by law, 
every sheriff to make returns, does ipso facto disqualify him, because 
the office of sheriff is under the crown : and if holding an office under 
the crown disqualify a man, it involves this palpable absurdity, that 
the very grant, which makes him, disqualifies him from acting. But 
it is still weaker with respect to the sheriff of Dublin, for that sheriff 
is not appointed immediately by the crown, but by election : however 
I have exposed this objection : upon the other ground I put it, that 
it would be absurd that the very office should be a direct disqualifica- 
tion, from the fulfilling of the most important duty of it. But then 
Mr. Rowan believes him to be prejudiced against him, and that he 
laboured to return a prejudiced pannel. Would his belief be evidence 
of favour? Surely not; but the law, not grounded on weak sus- 
picions, disregards such conjectures, and rejects the surmises of 
interested parties. Our law, also, appoints a proper time, when even 


legal objections can only be received. The tune for challenging the 
array, is before any of the jury are sworn, and for challenging the 
polls, when they come to the book ; but if the party accused takes his 
chance with the jury, he afterwards comes too late to object to them ; 
each is the language of the law, and the manifest principle of justice. 
But to take it upon the point of hardship, which has been insisted 
upon, there appears to be none ; he had three months' notice, and 
near two terms had elapsed, during which time he never expressed 
any discontent against the sheriff, nor suggested to the court, by affi- 
davit or otherwise, that the sheriff was partial, or adverse to him. He 
and his attorney must both have known that this man was sheriff, and 
yet never applied to have the trial postponed, or the process directed 
to any other officer ; and even in his affidavit, made since the trial, 
which is unsupported by any other, he does not state that this cause 
of complaint came to his knowledge subsequent to the trial ; indeed 
the reason of his belief speaks the contrary, namely his being the 
conductor of, what is called, a government paper, an officer in the 
militia, and in the revenue ; which facts, it is presumable, he could 
not have been a stranger to at the time of the trial. 

Next comes that objection to the juror Perrin, in answer to which, 
what I have already said, respecting time, that the challenge should 
have been made before the juror was sworn, and if a challenge had 
been made, there is not enough in the affidavit, even supposing the 
facts true, to support it.* It is not sworn that he made any declara- 
tion respecting the matter in issue, nor in malice, to the defendant. 
2 Hawk. P. C. 578, 8th Ed. The trior's oath illustrates and is applicable, 
it is to try, whether the jurors are indifferent upon the matter 
in issue ; but I still resort to what I said before, the objection 
now comes too late. A third objection goes to vitiate the verdict as 
unjust, founded upon false, or uncreditable testimony. This is a 
question of great extent, and of great consequence to the admin- 
istration of criminal law ; the object desired is, to be let in, it is said, 
to impeach further by new witnesses, the credit of persons, already 
attempted to be discredited on the trial. If that were yielded to, no 
verdicts for misdemeanours against the traverser could stand, as long 
as a man could be found to swear that the witness did not deserve 
credit. It would be a direct and general invitation to such perjury 
as could not be punished by an indictment, and would tend to with- 
hold a part of that evidence by which the witness on the first trial 
might be impeached, and hold out an invitation to persons to offer 
themselves after the trial, to discredit the witnesses with safety, 
perhaps profit to themselves. It would wound the constitution deeply, 
by transfering the jurisdiction of the jury to the court, and would 
totally overturn the trial by jury. It is admitted by the defendant's 
counsel, that no case has been found to authorise it, and the case 
cited 7 Mod. 57* has been searched for, and cannot be found ; I have 
found a case in page 54, which, so far as it goes, is against him ; it 
would be strange and unjust if it could, but there are other cases, 

• Id the case of Lady Herbert v. Shaw, 11 Mod. 119. it is said by the court "if 
a party have cause of challenge and know of it time enough before the trial, if he 
do not challenge he shall not nave a new trial ; contra, if he has not had timely 
notice of it." 


which go much more strongly against him, where it has been attempted 
to set aside the verdict where the witness has been incompetent, of 
which the court, and not the jury, are by law the judges. Hyan and 
Ballan cited 7 Mod. 54, referred to 5 Bacon, was the case of a non- 
suit, and the court refused to set it aside, although the deed, upon 
which the defendant relied, was sworn to be a forgery ; and Turner 
and Pearte 1 Term Rep. 717. is much stronger than this, against 
what is applied for. An application was made for a new trial upon 
affidavit, that five of the witnesses produced by the party, who 
obtained a verdict, were incompetent, and ought not to be examined 
at all ; there is an affidavit in answer, that the party who called these 
witnesses did not know that there was any objection to them. Ashurst, 
J. said they came too late after trial. Now their evidence was to be 
considered as a nullity, that they never should have been examined at 
all ; not what credit they deserved, whether more or less, which the 
jury are judges of, not the court. And in that case, where the 
matter was of law within the power of the judges, whether competent 
or not, though it was sworn that five of them were interested, and 
incompetent of course, yet the court would not hear the objection 
because it came too late, and Mr. Justice Buller, a very great lawyer, 
says " there has been no instance of this court's granting a new trial, 
on an allegation, that some of the witnesses examined were interested, 
and I should be very sorry to make the first precedent." There 
never yet has been a case in which the party has been permitted after 
trial to avail himself of any objection which was not made at the time 
of the examination. Mr. Justice Grose, in the same case, says, " In 
the first place it does not clearly appear, that the plaintiffs did not 
know of the objection at the time of the trial. It is sworn very 
loosely ; and if they knew of it, at that time, that would be a decisive 
reason for refusing to allow it now." And now I shall apply this 
opinion, in this case, to the last objection made by counsel, as well as 
to what I have already said ; but there it was said by Mr. Justice 
Grose, that the objection to the witness might be an ingredient if the 
party applying had merits. In 2 Term Rep. 113 in the case of 
Vernon and others, the assignees of Tyler v. Hankey, the court would 
not grant a new trial, to let the party into a defence, of which he was 
apprized at the first trial. I have cited these cases to shew, that even 
in case of incompetency, where the witness ought not to be permitted 
to stand upon the table, or open his lips — there after trial, the court 
would not set aside a verdict upon that ground. But see what Mr. 
Rowan's affidavit is, even if it could be listened to as to his own 
innocence ; he says, he heard the evidence of Lyster and Morton, 
charging him with having read, distributed and published the paper 
in the information, in Cope-street, at Pardon's fencing school, and 
positively swears, that their testimony was utterly false. Now first, 
I say, that no trial or verdict was ever set aside, in a case like this, 
upon such an affidavit. It is at best the oath of the party to his own 
innocence ; but it is not so much ; here he does not deny the facts, 
not one of them ; and let me take the words "utterly false" in every 
sense they convey ; if he means false in every thing, then he has 
surely made an affidavit stating that he has heard the evidence of 
Lyster and Morton, charging him with having read, distributed and 



published the paper, that, he says, is utterly fake. To use the ex* 
presaion of one of the judges in that case I cited, it is a great deal 
too loose ; the party swearing for himself does not even contradict 
Lyster ; he does not contradict any one of these facts specially. I 
will ask, could he be found guilty of perjury, upon such loose 
swearing, supposing it to be false ? I should think not. But it is 
material to another part, that this is the only part of their testimony 
which he has contradicted, and he might, when he undertook to 
contradict any of the facts, have contradicted the whole, or any other 
party as far as the .truth would justify him, at least upon hearsay or 
belief; he has not done that. 

But it is urged from the bar, upon a point not stated in the notice, 
but from the recollection of one of the counsel, unto which no affidavit 
refers, that I assumed to the jury the fact of a meeting, at Cope-street, 
of 150 men, at which Mr. Rowan was present, which he has not 
contradicted ; upon that I have built a strong inference of guilt, 
upon the presumption arising from their silence. Here I will state, 
as accurately as I can, what I did say ; what I did not say, which has 
been imputed to me ; in which I have the concurrence of my brethren 
as to their recollection. I told the jury, and meant to have told them, 
as far as my recollection serves me, that the observation made by one 
of the prosecutor's counsel, indeed by two of them, first Mr. Attorney- 
General, and afterwards Mr. Prime- Sergeant, struck me, as obvious 
and strong, viz. that the defendant did not contradict by a single 
witness, any one fact sworn to against him ; I then stated some of 
the leading facts sworn to, those facts as I thought easiest to be con- 
tradicted, and those facts which brought with them, if they were true, 
the means of defence ; for example, that there was a meeting in open 
day at a public fencing school, where from one to two hundred per- 
sons, many of them in Volunteer uniforms, were sworn to have been 
present; this fact, I told them, was sworn to by two witnesses, and if 
the jury believed there was a meeting of the kind and number sworn 
to, it was to my mind a volume of evidence ; I say so still, that the 
defendant did not produce any of the persons to contradict any of 
these facts, or prove that he did not read, publish or disperse the libel in 
question. He has now made an affidavit, and see the power of per- 
verting fancy ; Gentlemen argue for an hour upon affidavits, because 
the facts sworn to are not contradicted, and they insist upon these 
uncontradicted facts as truths ; these six affidavits, say their counsel, 
are strong and uncontradicted, and therefore the facts in them must 
be assumed; but on the other hand, Mr. Rowan has made an affidavit, 
and lie has not to this hour, ventured to contradict all the facts 
proved against him on the trial ; and shall we not be at liberty in our 
turn, to assume upon this motion that he cannot contradict them. He 
swears he heard the evidence ; he has not ventured to contradict any 
of those facts ; he has not sworn that there was not a meeting of so 
many persons, nor any thing of that nature. 

Now I will state what the evidence was ; Lyster swore, that on 
the 16th December, 1792, he was at Pardon's fencing-school, in 
Cope-street, in the city of Dublin ; that there was from one to two 
hundred persons present in scarlet uniforms: that Napper Tandy, 
Hamilton Rowan, and others, were sitting at a table : the witness 


went in from curiosity, and he was told by Mr. Rowan, to the best of 
his knowledge, that no man in coloured clothes could be admitted 
there. He does not contradict that conversation with this man — that 
there was a gallery, to which he might go ; that is not contradicted — 
that Hamilton Rowan was very busy, and walked about with papers 
in his hand ; these facts, let it be remembered too, that he swore upon 
belief and vague recollection to the best of his knowledge. I told 
the jury this was not evidence, and should be rejected; but he does 
not now contradict any of those facts ; then he goes to the publication. 
So it was with respect to Morton, what did I tell the jury ? after 
stating the act of parliament which declares, if not gives, a power to 
the jury, to find upon the whole matter, which I told them they had 
a right to do ; that the credit of the witnesses was with them, and 
not with me ; that they were to find, upon the whole matter in issue, 
and that they were the judges of the fact, and the intention. Did I 
assume any fact ? No ; that fact, as well as every other, was to be 
determined upon belief or disbelief of the witnesses. Such may not 
have been my identical words, but such must have been my manifest 
meaning, and the court approved of what I said. And I say now 
with certainty, I never said to the jury, that the defendant's silence 
upon those facts, was to supply any defect in the prosecutor's 
evidence ; I disclaim it. I did not assume the fact, nor did I mean 
or direct that the jury should take it for granted, that there was any 
meeting whatsoever. 

These facts were sworn to, like the others, by two witnesses, 
except the fact of publication, which was the criminal fact, and 
which was sworn to by one witness only, and so I stated to the jury, 
that Lyster whose credit was attacked, if they did not believe, I told 
them they ought to acquit. I then left the whole of the facts and 
credit of the witnesses and the intention of the paper (if they believed 
the defendant published it) to the jury, who were, I told them, to 
determine upon the whole matter. 

But suppose the fact otherwise, and as favourable to the defendant 
as his counsel wished to have it taken, it cannot avail upon this 
motion either in law, or justice, or fact, or legal discretion ; first it 
makes no part of the notice ; next it should have been objected to 
below. It was the duty of the gentleman who urged it now, and he 
was not remiss, to have taken notice of it at the time ; thirdly, it 
falls under the general rule that any objection which could have 
been made below, and contradicted or refuted by evidence, cannot 
afterwards be taken advantage of. It might have been instantly 
answered, qualified, contradicted, or adhered to ; but in truth, the 
general course of the defence rejected all ideas of disproof ; it was to 
justify that paper; and standing upon that ground, it scorned to 
deny the publication ; I take that for granted ; for no attempt was made 
to contradict a single fact sworn to by one or other of those wit- 
nesses. But, upon this motion, how is it to affect our discretion ? 
Does it appear now that any of those facts are contradicted ? 
What are we then to judge of? Is it that manifest injustice has 
been done, which is the principle that governs motions for new 
trials? Is there any thing like a new substantive defence set up, 
which has not been made before ? Is it said by any of the persons 


who have made affidavits here, or by the traverser himself, that he 
can by witnesses contradict these facts ? Not a word of any such 
thing ; and if we are to draw the same inference from the silence of 
the affidavits, which was drawn from not answering them in the argu- 
ments of the case ; see how it stands, what he has not contradicted 
he has admitted — but I have no occasion for that. This motion is 
addressed to the discretion of the court ; that is to the court bound 
by the curb of legal discretion, for we cannot indulge our feelings be 
they what they may, and legal discretion is as well ascertained as any 
express point of law. Adjudications are evidence — we are obliged to 
follow these, as evidence of what the law is. It is said there is an ana- 
logy respecting the granting of new trials, between cases of misde- 
meanors and civil cases, and yet, in order to determine this motion, 
as defendant's counsel desire, we must abandon that very ground of 
analogy: the great principle is that, and that alone, which is recognized 
in Bright and Enyon 1 Bur. 390, alluded to and adopted in many 
others, from the cases in Styles (448, 462, 466,) to this hour — Has sub- 
stantial justice been done ? Has the party who requires a new trial been 
manifestly injured ? Upon what ground is it we are to presume an 
injury done to the traverser? He has had fourteen months to prepare 
himself. In trials for their lives, men have often not more than one, and 
very seldom more than six months ; he had fourteen — they, though 
confined and in prison, are supposed to have time to defend themselves 
in felonies of death — here the party at large, complains, invites, pro- 
vokes the trial Has he been surprised ? Has he wanted the aid of 
counsel? Has he been unattended with friends and followers? 
Look at the history of the trial. What new defence has he alledged? 
has he, even himself, contradicted the facts charged against him? No; 
from what then are we to infer, that injustice has been done to him ? 
It was said that whether by right or by courtesy, by indulgence, or 
connivance, persons in his situation find a way to the matter charged 
against them. See how that stands : there may be very good and 
sufficient and proper reasons, not to disclose the name of the party 
swearing the information ; to protect him from violence or corruption 
of the party sworn against. How is this case ? The very thing 
which most deserves to be concealed, was made known to him and his 
agent ; for the person, that is to swear against him, is disclosed to 
them, they trace him to the place of his birth, they enquire into his 
family and connections, they follow him through his private bargains 
and engagements, they become acquainted with his indiscreet, and 
perhaps immoral conduct ; shall we presume, that this man, whose 
name was then at the foot of the examination, was unknown to him ? 
Where are we to look for that substantial justice, by which he can 
protect himself on another trial ? I find it no where ; I find it not 
in the principle of the criminal law ; I find it not in adjudged cases ; 
I find it not in the sound discretion of the court; he has had 
every possible indulgence; he has had every latitude of defence 
by justification (at the least as far as it would go) by insinua- 
tion, by address ; and I trust, in this free country, I am not 
mistaken when I suffer counsel to go as large, and take, as wide a 
range, as decent language will admit, to convey every sentiment 
which may assist his client : can we say the merits are not tried ? Is 


it said the merits are in his favour ? Bat see, as I said before, how 
perverting imagination can change the most common maxim : is it 
aUedged that the juror, who is complained of, exerted himself to in- 
fluence the others ? that this was a case of a struggle amongst the 
jury ? O ! No ; but the case was so clear, that there was not a minute 
a man in the deliberation. Then where there is not a struggle, and it is 
not said that he did act partially, or work upon the other eleven, or that 
by his unjust means, the verdict was obtained ; yet we are desired to 
step out of our way — to go unconstitutionally into the jury box, and 
say, that they should not have given credit to the witnesses, where the 
constitution gives them a power to decide. I am therefore, clearly of 
opinion, that the verdict cannot, upon any principal of law or justice, 
be disturbed.* 

Mr. Justice Boyd. — This is an application to set aside a verdict 
upon an information. My Lord Clonmel has stated the affidavits so 
much at large, that it is not necessary for me to take up much time. 
The counsel in the argument rested the case ; 

1st. Upon the declaration of a juror against Mr. Rowan. 

2nd. Upon the partiality of the sheriff. 

3rd. The incredibility of Lyster the witness, and 

Lastly, the misdirection of the court. 

As to the declaration of the juror, there are two affidavits, which 
state it, but it was upon a common subject ; it had no relation what- 
ever to the matter in issue ; it does not appear that this declaration 
was malicious, and the authority in Hawkins establishes that a decla- 
ration to prevent a man from being a juror, must be pertinent to the 
matter in issue, and malicious. The declaration of Ferrin, in my 
opinion, if laid before the court in proper time, was not a ground of 
challenge in point of law ; and I must conclude it now comes too 
late ; it was an objection merely to the favour ; it is a matter in Pais, 
to be determined by triors appointed ; and here the court are desired 
to assume the province of a jury and try it here. But I think it now 
comes too late. In this case it does not appear, that justice has not 
been done, which is the true ground of setting aside verdicts. It is 
no where suggested, that the misconduct of this juror was the cause, 
by which the verdict was obtained. The shortness of the time that 
the jury were withdrawn, is a strong ground to presume, they were 
not persuaded by him. 

2dly. As to the charge of partiality in the sheriff, Mr. Rowan in 
his affidavit speaks only as to belief; he does not charge it positively. 
The same observation I have already mentioned, goes to this point ; 
there was not a challenge taken to the array, on the ground of parti- 
ality in the returning officer. This being an application to the 
discretion of the court to set aside the verdict, the question is, has 
justice not been done ? The charge is general upon belief; and yet 
the affidavit does not say, that the sheriff did procure a partial jury, 
or that he could procure it ; and in this case, as in every other, the 
not making objections at the trial, is a strong ground to prevent the 

Rex. v Mawbey 6. T. R. 638 ; Vernon v Hankey 2. T. R. 1 13 ; 2 Salk 647, 653 ; 
Boll N. Prhw 327 ; Saver Rep 27; 1 T R 717; Chitty's Criminal Law 656; 
Howlet v Crutchele? 5 Taunt 277. 


court from interfering, especially where the traverser, in no part of 
his affidavit, swears he is not guilty ; or has a good cause of defence 
to make upon a new trial, which, in my opinion, are two material 
grounds, in granting new trials. As to the incredibility of Lyster's 
evidence, I must observe that evidence was offered at the trial, which 
shews to demonstration, that the defendant was prepared ; he pro- 
duced three witnesses against Lyster, for he did produce Blake, Smith 
and Hatchell, their evidence and Lyster's, and Morton's, all went up to 
the jury ; the jury have found their verdict ; and this application is 
made to the discretion of the court, to set that verdict aside and to 
grant a new trial, to let in further evidence in support of that, which 
the jury did not credit, that is, of the witnesses, who charge that 
Lyster ought notf to be. believed on his oath. There is no instance in 
the books to be met with to warrant such a proceeding. There are 
instances, where a court has refused to set aside a verdict, on the 
ground of incompetency of the witnesses on the former trial, because 
the defendant had taken a chance of a verdict in his favour. Sup- 
pose a new trial granted, what would be the consequence ? Lyster 
would be examined before another jury ; with the suspicion of the 
court of King's Bench falling upon him, that he was an incredible 

As to the misdirection of the judge ; I attended to every word, as 
I always do to what falls from his lordship ; I recollect the substance 
of the charge, it had my entire approbation, it was, that the defendant 
did not contradict, by a single witness, any one fact charged against 
him. His lordship stated several of the facts, which he thought 
might be disproved, if not true ; the meeting was at noon day, in a 
public room, and 150 persons present, in uniform ; the evidence of 
Lyster was confirmed by Morton, but Morton had not the paper, but 
heard the expression, " citizen soldiers, to arms." On the whole the 
evidence went to the jury, but there was only one witness to the fact 
of publication. If the jury believed there was any meeting of the 
kind and number that was so mentioned, the defendant did not pro- 
duce a witness to contradict one of the facts so alledged. His lordship 
did not say, that the defendant's silence was to supply the defects in 
the prosecutor's evidence. All the facts were left to the jury by the 
court, and each of us made such observations as occurred to him. By 
the verdict the jury, it appears, did give credit to the witnesses, and 
did believe there was a meeting. The description given of the meet- 
ing was, that there were 150 persons present. These were strong 
circumstances to go to the jury. If you believe there was a meeting, 
not one of those persons has been brought forward to contradict these 
assertions. I know of no judicial determination of any case similar 
to the present. In this case, the traverser does not swear he is not 
guilty. If this was a civil case, here is not ground for a good demurrer. 
On the whole, I concur with Lord Clonmel, that this verdict ought 
not to be impeached. 

Mr. Justice Downes. — This is an application, to set aside a verdict 
of guilty in a criminal case, on several affidavits. I hope that it will 
be recollected, that the affidavits have been read without opposition 
from the counsel for the crown, and that the court have not given 
any opinion whether after a verdict of guilty in a criminal case, the 


defendant has a right to have such affidavits read, as have been pro- 
duced in this case ; but as they have been read, I shall examine the 
grounds of the motion, which is founded on them. 

1st. The verdict is sought to be set aside (according to the notice) 
on this ground, that it is contrary to justice, founded on false testi- 
mony not deserving any credit ; those are the words of the notice. 

This is a direct appeal from the jury to the court, in a matter solely 
within the province of the jury; the court cannot decide on the truth 
or falsehood of evidence, and yet we are desired to set aside this ver- 
dict on the ground, that the evidence was false, and that the jury 
ought not to have believed the witnesses. 

No fact sworn to by either of the witnesses for the crown, on the 
trial, was then contradicted by evidence, no new witness is discovered, 
who can, in case of a new trial, contradict any fact sworn by either 
of those witnesses. 

The truth of their testimony as given on the trial, is even now con- 
tradicted only by the affidavit of the defendant ; the court can make 
no distinction between defendants, and no instance is, or I believe can 
be shewn, where the oath of a person found guilty, contradicting the 
witnesses examined against him on the trial, has been allowed to 
shake the verdict that convicted him ; and if it should be suffered to 
do so, I believe few convictions would stand. 

But it is said, that if the verdict should be set aside, new light 
will be let in upon the case by the evidence disclosed in these 

But what is the new light that is suggested ; not upon the merits 
of the case ; it is not alledged that any new ground of defence is 
discovered ; no affidavit of any of the new witnesses says one word 
of the matter in issue in the cause, and the defendant himself does 
not in his affidavit state, that if the verdict shall be set aside, he can 
at a future trial, produce any evidence, as to the fact with which he 
is charged. 

But it is said, that new light can be thrown upon the defect of 
credit in Lyster, the principal witness for the crown. 

Not by shewing that any fact he swore was false, the best mode of 
discrediting a witness ; it is not suggested that the defendant can 
produce any evidence to that effect. 

But, two witnesses can be produced, who will swear, that they 
think he ought not to be believed, and to let in these opinions, we are 
desired to set aside the verdict. 

I say, to let in these opinions, for the particular facts of perjury, 
which they state, could not be suffered to be proved at the trial. 

And I think it is at least doubtful, whether if they had appeared 
on the trial, which has been had, they could (from any thing appearing 
on their affidavits) have given any evidence at all ; for neither of 
them speaks as to Lyster's general character ; whether that be such 
as not to deserve credit in a court of justice, and it is with respect to 
his general character only, that a witness can be prepared to defend 
himself, and not against the opinion of an individual. 

But if it were admitted, that a verdict might be set aside, where 
a party is surprised by the production of a suspicious witness, who 
he had no reason to suppose would be examined against him ; yet 


this is not that case ; here it is evident, that there was no such sur- 
prise ; the defendant knew before trial, that Lyster was his prose- 
cutor, he was prepared at the trial to impeach his credit ; he examined 
three witnesses for that purpose, the jury have weighed and decided 
upon that credit ; and can we say, after the credit of this witness has 
been examined by the jury, that particular facts, sworn by him, in 
some of which he was corroborated by another witness, and contra- 
dicted by none, ought not to be believed, because persons come forward 
and state that they would not give him credit on his oath ; it would, 
in my apprehension, be a most mischievous decision, if the court were 
to do so. And I know not how any verdict could ever stand, if it 
were sufficient ground to set it aside, that new witnesses come and 
tell us, that the former witnesses ought not to be believed. 

My lord has cited cases on this point, which I need not take up 
time in again going over. 

As to the declarations sworn to have been made by a juror — 

Mr. Curran cited a case, which cannot be found in the book referred 
to ; but supposing it has been decided, that a cause of challenge not 
known at the trial, is sufficient to set aside a verdict, I cannot feel, 
that mere general declarations, though severe ones, relative to the 
defendant's political conduct, made long before the trial, upon a con- 
versation, no way concerning the matter in issue, would have been 
sufficient cause for a challenge. I cannot think that such general 
declarations could form any ground of challenge, for if they would, 
suppose a rebellion in the country, no loyal subject could be a juror 
on the trial of any of the principal persons concerned in it. 

As to the objection grounded on the conduct of the sheriff, it is 
enough to say, that no particular act of partiality is stated, and that 
his having endeavoured to procure a prejudiced jury is stated, only 
on belief — no act of the sheriff is stated, upon which that belief is 
founded ; nor whether it was formed before the trial or not ; and if 
the defendant had apprehended that the sheriff would misconduct 
himself, he ought to have taken the proper steps to have the jury pro- 
cess directed to another officer, which could easily have been done, if 
sufficient grounds existed. 

These objections — to the witnesses, the juror and the sheriff, are all 
the grounds, upon which the verdict is impeached by the notice served 
on the part of the defendant ; and, in my mind, it would be a severe 
and dangerous injury to the trial by jury, if we were to disturb this 
verdict on any or all of those grounds. 

But an objection is taken to my lord's charge to the jury, and it is 
contended, that there has been a misdirection ; that an illegal charge 
has been given, and that, on that account, the verdict ought to be set 

When that charge was given to the jury, I thought it a clear, able, 
fair and legal charge — I think so still. 

I attended to it minutely ; as it was my duty to do ; if I had per- 
ceived any assumption of any fact, any observation in my opinion 
unwarranted by law ; I should have pointed it out to his lordship on • 
the spot ; and from the manner, in which my humble assistance has 
been at all times received by him, I am confident that I should have 
had his thanks for so doing. 


I saw no reason to object to any part of the charge when it was 
delivered, and I expressly concurred in it. 

When, upon the recollection of counsel, without affidavit, of the 
words of the charge, my lord was stated to have used expressions to 
the jury, which conveyed to them — absolutely that there was a meet- 
ing of a great number of persons — I had no recollection of the fact of 
a meeting having been assumed in the charge. 

And when it was contended, at the bar, that it was put to the jury 
in words amounting to this position or effect, that the silence of the 
defendant would establish a charge, or supply evidence not fully 
proving the case, I must say, that the impression made on my mind, 
by the charge, excited no such idea. I conceived the charge to have left 
the fact of the existence of a meeting, and the other facts of the case, 
fairly to the jury, upon the evidence given by the prosecutor's wit- 
nesses, without assuming the truth of any of those facts, but leaving 
the credit of the witnesses to the jury. I requested his lordship to 
give me, in writing, his charge, as to this part of the case, according 
to his recollection of it, and he gave it to me as stated by him to-day — 
and the substance and effect of it corresponded with my own recollec- 
tion. As to the observation objected to, that the silence of the 
defendant was strong evidence, which was the meaning conveyed by 
the words, a volume of evidence : I think the observation justifiable, 
prefaced, as it is by my lord stated to have been, and from whose 
statement I must take it, in this manner — " if the jury should believe 
there was a meeting of the kind and number sworn to by the two 
witnesses, the not producing any person who was at that meeting to 
contradict any of the particular facts, sworn by them, or to prove that 
he did not publish the libel in the manner sworn." Is this a violation 
of the maxim, that no man is bound to accuse himself? Does this 
amount to the position, that the silence of the defendant will prove a 
charge ? It will not ; it would be monstrous if it were so held. If 
no charge is proved, he may be for ever silent ; but where one wit- 
ness has fully proved the fact of publication, if believed ; where he 
stated that fact, attended with a number of circumstances, easy to be 
contradicted if false ; where many of those circumstances are cor- 
roborated by the evidence of another witness, who swore he was at 
such a meeting as, Lyster described. Is it not a fair observation in 
a judge to say, (where no manner of evidence to contradict any of 
those facts is given) that if the jury believe that there was such a 
meeting as sworn, the silence of the defendant is strong evidence- 
strong evidence that the facts which are sworn to have passed at that 
meeting, and which might, if false, be readily contradicted — were 
truly sworn. 

If no case is made out in evidence, by the prosecutor, the defendant 
may be safely silent, and the jury ought to be told by the judge, that 
no case is proved ; but if a case is sworn to, and fully by the prose- 
cutor, if the defendant chooses to be silent, as to the facts, and to rest 
on the discredit of the witnesses against him, he runs the risk of their 
being believed ; and if the account they give is such, and circum- 
stances sworn to by them, strike the jury to be such, as that they 
might be easily answered and contradicted if false, then if no answer 
is given, the jury may be well warranted to believe them ; and a 


charge of a judge, folly and strongly putting such case before the 
jury, and with such an observation, would not in my mind be repre- 

Suppose the only witness in a case of felony, should be an approver, 
a witness whose credit is reduced to the lowest point of degradation ; 
he may state such circumstances, as from the facility of contradicting 
them, may force credit from a jury, and would it be unjust or illegal 
for the court to observe, that where the facts sworn to, were easy to 
be contradicted if false, it was a strong circumstance against the 
prisoner, that he had produced no evidence to contradict them ; that 
such conduct furnished evidence to strengthen the credit of the 

This objection was made for the first time, when the motion came 
on to be argued ; it is not stated in the notice that there was any 
misdirection ; from whence it might be conjectured, that it had not 
struck the counsel, then, that there was any ground in the charge, on 
which the verdict could be attacked ; two very able counsel spoke to 
the motion for the defendant, without touching upon any objection to 
the charge. 

And the learned gentleman, who took the objection, had immediately 
after the verdict came in, informed the court, that his client would 
(if the court thought fit) then receive the sentence of the court. It is 
hard to imagine, that if that counsel, the only one who attacked the 
charge, then thought that there was a misdirection in the court, which 
would have intitled his client to set aside the verdict ; it is hard, I 
say, to imagine that he would have informed the court, that his client 
was willing to appear, and receive judgment, which, if the court had 
then pronounced, he must know, would have shut his mouth for ever 
from taking any advantage of any misdirection of the court, if any 
had existed. 

I think there has been no misdirection, and therefore, and because 
I think the other grounds stated, are insufficient to set aside the 
verdict, I think the motion must be refused. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — My lords, it is my duty to apply to 
the court to pronounce sentence upon the traverser. 

Mr. Justice Boyd. — Archibald Hamilton Rowan, you have been 
found guilty, by a jury of your country, of publishing a false, wicked, 
and seditious libel, of and concerning the government and constitution 
of this kingdom, with an intent to excite and diffuse among the 
subjects, discontents, jealousies, and suspicions of the king and his 
government; to raise dangerous seditions and tumults; to throw 
the government of this country into scandal and disgrace ; to 
excite the people to make alterations in the government, and to 
overawe and to intimidate the legislature by an armed force. 
This charge was exhibited in an information filed against you 
by his Majesty's Attorney-General, and the whole matter was, as 
it ought to be, left to the jury, who have found, first, that the 
instrument set forth is a libel ; secondly, that you did publish it ; 
thirdly, that you published it with the intentions stated in the infor- 
mation. The libel is contained in a printed paper, intitled, " An 
Address from the Society of United Irishmen at Dublin, to the Vo- 
lunteers of Ireland." This publication followed and animadverted 


upon a proclamation published by order of the lord lieutenant and 
council, to which you have attributed an intention to create internal 
commotion, to shake the public credit, and to blast the Volunteer 
honour. This proclamation has had the sanction of both houses of 
parliament. At this period, and it is upon the records of parliament, 
the great body of the Roman Catholics were seeking relief ; they 
presented dutiful addresses, stating they were anxious to be liberated 
from restraints they laboured under ; but you addressed them to take 
up arms, and by force to obtain their measures ; they were palpably 
to be made a dupe to your designs, because you say you will proceed 
to the accomplishment of your beloved principles — UNIVERSAL 
Seduction, calumny, and terror, are the means by which you intend 
to eifect them. The Volunteers are to become instruments in your 
hands, and despairing to seduce the army, you calumniate them with 
the opprobrious epithet of mercenaries. You say seduction made 
them soldiers, but nature made them men. You stigmatise the legal 
establishments for the preservation of order, as a notorious police, and 
the militia, the pride and the strength of the kingdom, are to be looked 
upon as suspicious. You called upon the people to arm — all are sum- 
moned to arms to introduce a wild system of anarchy, such as now 
involves France in the horrors of civil war, and deluges the country 
with blood. It is happy for you, and those who were to have been 
your instruments, that they did not obey you. It is happy for you 
that this insidious summons to arms was not observed, if it had, and 
the people with force of arms had attempted to make alterations in 
the constitution of this country, every man concerned would have 
been guilty of High Treason. 

The sentence of the court is — 

Mr. Hamilton Rowan. — My lords, I am perfectly sensible of the 
forbearance of the court in this trial, and particularly during the 
arrangement of a long affidavit ; I hope therefore that I shall be 
allowed a few words, either in mitigation, or in whatever other cha- 
racter I may have a right to address the court, before they pronounce 
their sentence. (Mr. Justice Boyd desired Mr. Hamilton Rowan to 
proceed.) I need not apologise, my lords, for any little errors I may 
fall into, for I am known to be a man unlearned in the forms of these 
courts, but I shall as plainly, and as shortly as I can, state every thing 
as it struck my ear and understanding. My lord, if I understood 
rightly, the three heads under which this matter has been argued 
are, the evidence, the jury, and the sheriff; I did hope that the 
objections taken to these, by my counsel, would have set aside the 

There are some parts concerning the evidence, in which the court, 
as well as the prosecutor, seem to have been mistaken. They have 
taken it for granted, that I knew the person who was to be brought 
to give evidence against me ; and it was asserted by the bench, that 
I had ransacked Connaught for evidence against the character of 
Lyster. I do not know what impression this might have made upon 
some of the jury ; it was indeed corrected at the time, but it was not 
sufficiently done away ; it is plain it was not, for Mr. Solicitor-Ge- 
neral who was present the whole time, whose duty it is, and whose 



inclination he declared it to be, to listen with attention and deference 
to every thing which fell from the bench, has since repeated the same 
assertion. I certainly did suspect, that the person who has now been 
brought forward, was the man who had lodged the informations 
against me ; but I hoped that my trial had been postponed by the 
prosecutor, from a knowledge of his character, and a wish to procure 
more credible testimony, as to the fact of the distribution. I had cer- 
tainly every reason to suppose this had been the case, as I knew that 
several of my friends, men who belong to the old Volunteer corps, 
and who probably were at that meeting, if there were any such 
assembly, had been summoned on this trial by the prosecutor. They 
attended in the court, but were never called upon. Perhaps I am 
wrong to mention this, but had they been called upon, I know the 
charge exhibited against me by Mr. Lyster would have fallen to the 
ground ; I had been certain of an acquittal. 

As to the jury, my lord, I can conceive some of them to have been 
very honourable men, and yet prejudiced, much prejudiced ; I did 
not conceive however, that any man would have gone into that box, 
taking an oath to try me impartially, yet having publicly declared an 
enmity against me. It was certainly very ingenious in one of the 
crown lawyers to suppose, that the jurors who used those expressions, 
might have thought at that time, that I had been guilty of murder, 
or some heinous crime, and had been disabused before the trial came 
on, but, without recurring to my general character, that suggestion, 
in my opinion, falls to the ground, for the conversation was on the 
subject of the Volunteers ; and it is for an address to the Volunteers 
that I am now prosecuted ; I certainly did wish for a revival of the 
Volunteers, and I did attempt it ; I thought they had already done 
honor to the nation, that they had been acknowledged honourable by 
the legislature ; this I did attempt, if this be a crime. It has been 
said by one of my prosecutors, that it was not with the jurors, but 
with their verdict that I was discontented ; I ask, what was my con- 
duct when the verdict was delivered in ? Did that prove a mere 
discontent against the verdict ? No. I thought it a severe one, 
unfounded in evidence, but I called for the sentence of the court ; I 
was ready to abide by that sentence ; and it was not until my return 
to Newgate, when I found my prison doors crowded with utter 
strangers to me, each recapitulating instances of declared partiality in 
the jurors, and further acts of infamy in the evidence, that I had 
thoughts of setting aside their verdict. 

As to the sheriff, and the circumstance of my not having made some 
application to the court prior to my affidavit of the day before yesterday, 
and the question of, when I became acquainted with his partiality, the 
fact is, that it was with the utmost reluctance I now stood forward, to 
accuse a man of what must, in my opinion, render him infamous. I 
well knew that in every public act of my life since I came to this 
country, trifling as they were, I had been calumniated by him ; but 
that was in his province of editor ; he is now become the representative 
of the executive power — is he not ? I thought the station he now 
holds, would give him some pride, instil some spark of honour into 
him, and that, relinquishing that conduct and those proceedings which 
were calculated to procure a sale for his journal, in some corners of 



the city, he would consider himself bound to return a jury which 
should be unsuspected. Was it likely that he did not know of these 
declarations of the jurors ? It is not probable. Before the recog- 
nizances were given up, while I was out on bail, the death of a near 
relation obliged me to go to England, where my attendance was 
necessary for the arrangement of my private affairs ; I returned how- 
ever at great inconvenience, and some pecuniary loss, to attend this 
court ; yet, during my absence, I was branded by this man as a fugitive ; 
and here permit me to observe, that your lordship, in your recapitula- 
tion of the events of this trial, omitted to mention the motion made for 
me by my friend, Mr. Blennerhasset, that the examinations against me 
should be forthwith returned : Day after day I had attended the court; 
the little enquiry I could make, informed me that no such examination 
had gone up to the grand jury, I believe it was on the last day of the 
term, or it was not motion day, or something of that kind, and there 
was no order of the court made. It had been suggested to me by some 
of my friends, when notice for this trial was served upon me, that I 
ought to attempt to put it off; but what would have been the conse- 
quence ? Your lordship has said, that I had called for, that I had 
provoked this trial, that I had complained it was not brought forward ; 
it is true, I did call for, I did provoke this trial ; I have complained 
that it was not brought forward. I wished to be brought to trial, but 
I did wish also to be tried by an impartial jury, summoned by an 
impartial man ; such I thought the sheriff of that time* to be, although 
I was not one of his acquaintance. The very words your lordship 
used, show why I did not put off my trial. What would then have 
been said by that Journal, which is perpetually stigmatizing my conduct 
and vilifying my private character ? It would have repeated, what 
was said in another country, that I was " an infamous wretch, who had 
fled from the punishment that awaited me."f But still those friends 
urged me to put off this trial : The sheriff is your enemy — No — I 
have called for trial, I will trust to his oath of office : though as editor 
of a newspaper, he has acted thus, yet when bound by oath " to return 
pannels of persons able and sufficient, and not suspected or procured, 
and to do justice impartially," (these are merely the words of the oath 
of a county sheriff,) I hoped he would rise superior to his editorial 
capacity, and act with justice. Nay, even in my first affidavit, I did 
not throw out this imputation. As to the sub-sheriff, I know him not, 
but I am informed that the sheriff himself returned the whole pannel 
upon this occasion ; contrary to the usual custom, as I am informed : 
Why this was so, I know not ; I cannot dive into the breast of any 
man : God forbid I should be capable of diving into his. My lord, 
perhaps what I am going to observe may be improper, but I once 
thought that, intention constituted guilt ; I thought I heard from the 
bench, that my intention did not signify. 

Lord Clonmei* — You have said nothing improper yet, Sir : go 
on, you do not seem to recollect the idea perfectly. 

Mr. Hamilton Rowan. — It was not from your lordship. 

• Henry Hutton, Esq. 

f Vide the Lord Advocate's speech on Mr. Muir's trial, printed by Robertson, 


archibaijD hamo/ton bow an. 173 

Mr. Justice Downbs*— Certainly it is an opinion no judge could 

Mr. Hamtlton Rowan. — I have been mistaken then, it was some- 
thing like it, it struck me so. As to the paper it has been said to come 
from a Society of United Irishmen. One of my witnesses was asked 
was he an United Irishman ? I have heard much of United Irishmen, 
much calumny here and elsewhere ; I avow myself to be one, my name 
has appeared to several of their publications, I glory in the name. On 
entering that society I took a test, by which I am bound to seek for 
the emancipation of every class of my fellow-citizens, and to procure, 
by spreading information, (for that is the only mode a few men 
assembled in Back-lane can adopt) a reform in the representation of 
the people* : a reform, the necessity of which has been allowed even 
in parliament. These are our objects, objects which I am bound to 
pursue to their completion. As to the paper, I honour the head that 
conceived it, and I love the hand that penned it. Much stress has 
been laid upon the words UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION and 
want of logical precision in me, but I do not consider these words as 
carrying the meaning which has been imputed to them. I did imagine 
thai the British constitution was a representative legislature, that 
the people were represented by the house of commons: that the 
lords represented the territory, the property; and that the king 
represented the power of the state, the united force, the power of the 
whole, placed in his hands for the benefit of the whole. As a person, 
as a man, I know nothing of the king ; I can know nothing of him, 
except as wielding the force of the nation, to be exercised for the 
benefit of the nation ;f and if ever that force should be misapplied or 
abused, it then remains for the people to decide in what hands it 
ought to be piaced4 

I really feel myself in an awkward situation, thus declaring my 
sentiments, seeing intentions different from those both of the author 
and myself are fixed upon that paper, for the distribution of which I 
am persecuted. From my situation, however, having an independent 
fortune, easy in my circumstances, and with a large family, insurrec- 

* It being the interest as well as the intention of the people to have a fair and 
equal representation, whoever brings it nearest to that, is an undoubted friend to 
and estabKsher of the government, and cannot miss the consent and approbation of 
the community. — Locke on Government* sec. 158. 

t But vet it is to be observed, that although oaths of allegiance and fealty are 
taken to him (the king), it is not to him, as supreme legislator, but as supreme 
executor of the law, made by a joint power of nim with others ; allegiance being 
nothing but an obedience according to law, which, when he violates, he has no 
right to obedience, nor can claim it otherwise than as the public person vested with 
the power of the law, and so is to be considered as the image, phantom, or repre» 
sentatwe of the commonwealth, acted by the will of society, declared in its laws ; 
and then he has no will, no power but that of the law. But when he quits this 
representation, this public wul, and acts by his own private will, he degrades him- 
self, and is but a single private person, without power, and without wul, that has 
any right to obedience ; the members owing no obedience but to the public will of 
the society Locke on Government, sec. 151. 

X When king Charles's deluded brother attempted to enslave the nation, he found 
H was beyond his power : The people both could and did resist him ; and in con- 
sequence of such resistance, obliged him to quit his enterprise and his throne 
together.— Blackstone, Public Wrongs, b. 4, c. 33, f. 5. 


tion of any sort would sorely be the last thing I could wish for. I ask 
no favour, but I submit myself to the clemency and the justice of the 
court, and I trust that whatever may be their sentence, I shall bear it 
with becoming fortitude. 

Lord Clonmel — I have conferred with my brethren upon what 
has fallen from you, confessedly in mitigation and with that view. 
There are two facts you seem to insist upon as new. If it made for 
you, that Mr. Hasset made the motion you state, I willingly adopt it. 
If I had known it in giving the history of this case, I should not have 
omitted that or anyting else done in this court. You mentioned that 
the informations should have been returned, they were returned into 
the crown office. 

Mr. Rowan. — My Lord, I meant they were not returned to the 
grand jury. 

Lord Clonmel. — The proceeding was not by way of Bill of Indict- 
ment, therefore what you desire could not have been adopted. Xhe 
proceedings here were by information ex-officio, and when the infor- 
mations were lodged in the crown office, which I am instructed to say, 
was the first day of Hilary Term, 1793, the first day the court sat 
afterwards, the information was filed and the other proceedings had. 
There is nothing else that has not been touched upon. As to the 
meaning of the libel, I owe justice to every man, and here and every 
where I have said, that no inference can be drawn from any construc- 
tion in your favour that was omitted. I think I will be justified in 
saying, that you were well and ably defended by your counsel. 
Nothing has fallen from you that affected the minds of the court in 
mitigation, to change the judgment which we have thought proper 
should be pronounced upon you. I shall not adopt any idea, or suffer any 
idea to arise in my mind, from what you last let fall from you, to 
increase that punishment. The judgment of this court will therefore 
be pronounced, as is the practice in Westminster Hall, by the second 
judge of the court It shall be pronounced by my brother Boyd. 

Mr. Justice Boyb — The sentence of the court is — That you, 
Archibald Hamilton Rowan, do pay to his Majesty a fine of Five 
Hundred Pounds, and be imprisoned for two years, to be computed 
from the 29th of January, 1794, and until that fine be paid ; and to 
find security for your good behaviour for seven years, yourself in the 
sum of Two Thousand Pounds, and two sureties in One Thousand 
Pounds each. 

The following illustrative dialogue is found in the Autobiography 
of Archibald Hamilton Rowan, edited by Dr. Drummond, p. 207 : 

" I had not been long imprisoned when the following conversation took 
place between Lord Clonmel and Mr. Byrne, printer, on his advertis- 
ing my trial for publication, in 1793. I should remark, that he gave 
me the conversation in his own hand-writing : — 

Lord Clonmel. — "Your servant, Mr. Byrne; I perceive you have 
advertised Mr. Rowan's trial." 


Btbhe. — " The advertisement, my Lord, is Mr. Rowan's ; he has 
selected me as his publisher, which I think an honour, and I hope it 
will be profitable." 

Lord Clohmei* — " Take care, Sir, what yon do ; I give you this 
caution ; for if there are any reflections on the judges of the land, by 
the eternal G — I will lay you by the heels!" 

Brats. — " I have many thanks to return your Lordship for your 
caution ; I have many opportunities of going to Newgate, but I have 
never been ambitious of that honour, and I hope in this case to stand 
in the same way. Your Lordship knows I have but one principle in 
trade, which is to make money of it, and that if there be two publica- 
tions giving different features to the trial I would publish both. 
There is a trial published by M'Kenzie." 

Lord Clonmei* — " I did not know that ; but say what you may on 
the subject, if you print or publish what may inflame the mob, it 
behoves the judges of the land to notice it ; and I tell you, by the 
eternal G — , if you publish or mis-state my expressions, I will lay you 
by the heels ! One of Mr. Rowan's advocates set out with an inflam- 
matory speech, mis-stating what I said, and stating what I did not 
say. I immediately denied it, and appealed to the court and the 
gentlemen in it, and they all contradicted him as well as myself. 
These speeches were made for the mob, to mislead and inflame them, 
which I feel my duty to curb. If the publication is intended to abuse 
me, I don't value it ; I have been so long in the habit of receiving 
abuse, that it will avail little ; but I caution you how you publish it ; 
for if I find anything reflecting on or mis-stating me, I will take care 
of you." 

Btrne. — " I should hope Mr. Rowan has too much honour to have 
anything mis-stated or inserted in his trial that would involve his 

Lord Cjlovmel. — " What ! is Mr. Rowan preparing his own trial ?" 

Brora. — u He is, my Lord." 

Lord Clonmel. — "Oho! ohol that is a different thing. That 
gentleman would not have been better used by me, standing in the 
situation he did, if he was one of the princes of the blood." 

Btrne. — u My Lord, Mr. Rowan being his own printer, you know 
he will publish his own trial ; I stand only as his publisher." 

Lord Clonmel. — " Even as his publisher, I will take care of you ; 
and I have no objection of this being known." 

Bykne. — " I return your Lordship many thanks." 


The following notice of the Bey. William Jackson, from Walker's 
Hibernian Magazine, (May, 1795), is very meagre and unsatisfactory. 
It is, however, from contemporary authority, and contains probably as 
much as we now require to know of a man, who played so rash and 
unsuccessful a game in the politics of our country. Rash and 
unsuccessful, however, as his conduct was, his mission to Ireland was 
very important in one point of view. It indicated the quarter from 
which Irish disaffection might hope for aid and encouragement ; and 
though he was not the first who came to Ireland to tender French 
assistance, his were the first offers of which the people of Ireland 
became aware, through the events of his singular and most tragic 

" This unfortunate man having been convicted by a jury of his 
countrymen, of an offence of so unpardonable a nature as high treason, 
would, most undoubtedly, have suffered the sentence which the law 
pronounces on so henious a crime, had it not been for the sudden and 
premature manner of his dissolution ; upon the true cause of which 
doubts have arisen, even in the minds of medical men. His melancholy 
catastrophe, and the crime for which he was found guilty having been 
so uncommon in this country, (no person having been indicted for it 
for upwards of a century), have justly drawn the attention of the 
community, in a very ample degree, on this wretched and unfortunate 
man. Our desire to gratify the curiosity of the public, has induced 
us to procure such information respecting his origin, and progress 
through life, as we thought would be acceptable, and which we shall 
now lay before them. 

u The family of this man was very respectable in this country. His 
father was many years a proctor, and officiated in the prerogative 
court in Dublin, and maintained a most excellent character. His 
mother was the daughter of Colonel Gore, of the county Sligo, He 
was the youngest of four sons, the eldest of whom was Dr. Richard 
Jackson, an eminent civilian, vicar-general to the late archbishop of 
Cashel, and an intimate friend of those respectable characters, 
the late Dr. Ratcliffe, and the Right Hon. Philip TisdalL At an early 
age he was sent to the University of Oxford, where he made a rapid 
proficiency in all branches of scientific and classical knowledge, and 


here lie commenced a friendship with the Harvey family, which 
remained unbroken for a long period of time. Having entered into 
the service of the church, the Earl of Bristol took him into his house 
as his private chaplain, with a handsome salary annexed ; his circum- 
stances about this time having become much straitened. 

" On the appointment of the Earl of Bristol to the Lord Lieutenancy 
of this kingdom, a prospect seemed to dawn on Mr. Jackson, which 
promised to make his future situation in life independent. The Earl 
sent him here as his private secretary, with a recommendation U> the 
Hon. Barry Maxwell, now Earl of Farnham, in whose house he resided 
for six months, universally loved and admired for his amiable and 
prepossessing qualities, his rectitude of conduct, and pleasing conver- 
sation. Unfortunately for him, however, his lordship resigned the 
viceroyalty without once visiting the seat of his government, and 
Jackson, whom if his lordship came into Ireland, would undoubtedly 
have been promoted to a bishopric, and might probably be now, not 
lying in his grave convicted of high treason, but presiding, a dignified 
ornament to the Established Church of this kingdom, returned to 
England to his former humble station of private chaplain to his 

" He was now obliged to look to his own acquirements and literary 
abilities, to enable him to indulge in those luxuries which he had been 
used to, and could not now do without, he accordingly commenced a 
party writer against the then ministry. His pamphlets acquired a 
great deal of celebrity in the political world, and even introduced him 
to the notice of the late Earl of Chatham, who promised to provide 
for him ; but it unluckily happened that it was Jackson's fate to meet 
with nothing but promises from the great, that always turned out 
abortive to him. 

" He pursued this line of conduct for a number of years in London 
well known as an author by the name of Parson Jackson, but without 
ever rising in his circumstances above mediocrity, although it might 
have been expected from the connexions he had with the family of 
the noble Earl already mentioned, and, through that connexion, with 
the Duchess of Kingston, he might have acquired a permanency for 
the remainder of his life. 

" This celebrated lady last mentioned, was very much attached to 
Mr. Jackson, and made him her confidant and secretary during her 
remarkable trial, in the House of Lords of England, for bigamy. He 
wrote the famous letters that were published in the newspapers in her 
contest with that Aristophanes of his age, the late Samuel Foote. 

" To enter into a detail of the many vicissitudes of life he went 
through in the course of his literary labours, would exceed the bounds 


we are necessarily prescribed to ; we shall, therefore, not trespass 
farther on the reader's patience, but refer to the trial, and conclude, 
by giving some particulars of the manner of his death, and the circum- 
stances attending it. 

"On the 30th of April, being brought up to court to receive 
judgment, his counsel moved an arrest of it, grounded on some infor- 
mality in the indictment, and also some other trifling matters, which, 
however, after being replied to by the Attorney-General, the court 
did not seem to think of moment sufficient to countenance this motion. 
During the course of the different opinions being delivered, the prisoner 
appeared to be extremely ill, and verging to a state of total insensibility, 
and upon Lord Clonmel's proceeding to pronounce judgment, he was 
entirely so ; his lordship then gave orders that he should be brought 
back to prison until further orders. However, in the course of a few 
minutes more he was reported to be dead. His body was not removed 
from its position in the dock until the next morning, when an inquisi- 
tion was held on it ; and the body being opened by Surgeons Hume 
and Adrien, the jury brought in their verdict, that ' his death was 
occasioned by some acrid and mortal matter taken into the stomach ; 
but how, or by whom administered, they did not know.' " 

The account of Mr. Jackson is more full in Curran's Life, by his 
Son ; and it is peculiarly interesting from the fact stated by Dr. Madden, 
in his Lives of the United Irishmen, that it was the casual perusal of 
a critique on this work, in the Edinburgh Review, that induced Lord 
Holland to prepare and introduce a bill for a change in the law of 
treason as applicable to this country. Previous to this act, the 1st and 
2nd Geo. IV., c. 24, it was held by the judges in Ireland, that one 
witness was sufficient to convict, in this country, of high treason. The 
very salutary protection of a second witness, was extended by Lord 
Holland's act. The following is the account given of Mr. Jackson's 
trial by the biographer of Curran ; — 

" The next state trial of importance in which Mr. Curran was engaged 
was that of Mr. William Jackson, a case of which some of the attend- 
ing circumstances were in a high degree singular and affecting. 

"Mr. Jackson was a clergyman of the Established Church ; he was 
a native of Ireland, but he had for several years resided out of that 
eountry. He spent a part of his life in the family of the noted 
Duchess of Kingston, and is said to have been the person who con- 
ducted that lady's controversy with the celebrated Foote.* At the 

* Foote, at the close of his letter to her Grace, observes : " Pray, madam, is not 

J n the name of your female confidential secretary ?" and afterwards, " That 

yon may never want the benefit of clergy in every emergency, is the wish of 

Yours," &c. 


period of the French Revolution he passed over to Paris, where he 
formed political connexions with the constituted authorities. From 
France he returned to London, in 1794, for the purpose of procuring 
information as to the practicability of an invasion of England, and was 
thence to proceed to Ireland on a similar mission. Upon his arrival 
in London, he renewed an intimacy with a person named Cockayne, 
who had formerly been his friend and confidential attorney. The 
extent of his communications, in the first instance, to Cockayne, did 
not exactly appear ; the latter, however, was prevailed upon to "write 
the directions of several of Jackson's letters, containing treasonable 
matters, to his correspondents abroad: but in a little time, either 
suspecting or repenting that he had been furnishing evidence of treason 
against himself, he revealed to the British minister, Mr. Pitt, all that 
he knew or conjectured relative to Jackson's objects. By the desire 
of Mr. Pitt, Cockayne accompanied Jackson to Ireland, to watch and 
defeat his designs ; and as soon as the evidence of his treason was 
mature, announced himself as a witness for the crown. Mr. Jackson was 
accordingly arrested, and committed to stand his trial for high treason. 
" Mr. Jackson was committed to prison in April, 1794, bat his 
trial was delayed, by successive adjournments, till the same month in 
the following year. In the interval, he wrote and published a refuta- 
tion of Paine's Age of Reason, probably in the hope that it might he 
accepted as an atonement* He was convicted, and brought up for 
judgment on the 30th of April, 1795. 

* Examples of honourable conduct, no matter by whom displayed, are heard with 
pleasure by every friend to human nature. Of such, a very rare instance was 

Siven by this gentleman during his imprisonment. For the whole of that period 
e was treated with every possible indulgence ; a fact so creditable to the Irish 
government, that it would be unjust to suppress it. Among the other acts of 
lenity extended to him, was a permission to enjoy the society of his friends. A 
short time before his trial, one of these remained with him to a late hour of the 
night : when he was about to depart, Mr. Jackson accompanied him as far as the 
place where the gaoler usually waited upon such occasions, until all his prisoners' 
visitors should have retired. They found the gaoler in a profound sleep, and the 
keys of the prison lying beside him. " Poor fellow !" said Mr. Jackson, taking up 
the keys, 'Met us not disturb him ; I have already been too troublesome to him in 
this way." He proceeded with his friend to the outer door of the prison, which he 
opened. Here the facility of escaping naturally struck him, — he became deeply 
agitated ; but after a moment's pause, " I could do it" said he. " but what would 
be the consequences to you, and to the poor fellow who has been so kind to me ? 
No ! let me rather meet my fate." He said no more, but locking the prison door 
again, returned to his apartment. It should be added, that the gentleman, out of 
consideration for whom such an opportunity was sacrificed, gave a proof upon this 
occasion that he deserved it. He was fully aware of the legal consequences of 
aiding in the esoape of a prisoner committed under a charge of high treason, and 
felt that, in the present instance, it would have been utterly impossible for him to 
disprove the circumstantial evidence that would have appeared against him ; yet 
he never uttered a syllable to dissuade his unfortunate friend. He, however, con- 
sidered the temptation to be so irresistible, that, expecting to find the prisoner, 
upon farther reflection, availing himself of it, he remained all night outside the 

?>rison door, with the intention, if Mr. Jackson should escape, of instantly flying 
rom Ireland. 


" It is at this stage of the proceedings that the case of Jackson 
becomes terribly peculiar. Never, perhaps, did a British court of 
justice exhibit a spectacle of such appalling interest as was witnessed 
by the King's Bench of Ireland upon the day that this unfortunate 
gentleman was summoned to hear his fate pronounced. He had a day 
or two before made some allusions to the subject of suicide. In a 
conversation with his counsel in the prison, he had observed to them, 
that his food was always cut in pieces before it was brought to him, 
the gaoler not venturing to trust him with a knife or fork. This 
precaution he ridiculed, and observed, * that the man who feared not 
death, could never want the means of dying, and that as long as his 
head was within reach of the prison- wall, he could prevent his body's 
being suspended to scare the community.' At the moment, they 
regarded this as a mere casual ebullition, and did not give it much 

" On the morning of the 30th of April, as one of these gentlemen was 
proceeding to court, he met in the streets a person warmly attached 
to the government of the day. The circumstance is trivial, but it 
marks the party spirit that prevailed, and the manner in which it was 
sometimes expressed : ' I have (said he) just seen your client, Jackson, 
pass by on his way to the King's Bench to receive sentence of death. 
I always said he was a coward, and I find I was not mistaken ; his 
fears have made him sick — as the coach drove by, I observed him, 
with his head out of the window, vomiting violently.' The other 
hurried on to the court, where he found his client supporting himself 
against the dock. His frame was in a state of violent perturbation, 
but his mind was still collected. He beckoned to his counsel to 
approach him, and making an effort to squeeze him with his damp 
and nerveless hand, uttered in a whisper, and with a smile of mournful 
triumph, the dying words of Pierre, 

" We have deceived the senate." 

" The prisoner's counsel having detected what they conceived to be 
a legal informality in the proceedings, intended to make a motion in 
arrest of his judgment ; but it would have been irregular to do so 
until the counsel for the crown, who had not yet appeared, should first 
pray the judgment of the court upon him. During this interval, the 
violence of the prisoner's indisposition momentarily increased, and the 
chief-justice, Lord Clonmel, was speaking of remanding him, when 
the attorney-general came in, and called upon the court to pronounce 
judgment upon him. Accordingly, ' the Rev. William Jackson was 
set forward,' and presented a spectacle equally shocking and affecting. 
His body was in a state of profuse perspiration ; when his hat was 


removed, a dense steam was seen to ascend from his head and temples ; 
minute and irregular movements of convulsion were passing to and 
fro upon his countenance ; his eyes were nearly closed, and, when at 
intervals they opened, discovered by the glare of death upon them, 
that the hour of dissolution was at hand. When called on to stand 
up before the court, he collected the remnant of his force to hold 
himself erect ; but the attempt was tottering and imperfect : he stood 
rocking from side to side, with his arms, in the attitude of firmness, 
crossed over his breast, and his countenance strained by a last proud 
effort, into an expression of elaborate composure. In this condition 
he faced all the anger of the offended law, and the more confounding 
gaze of the assembled crowd. The clerk of the crown now ordered 
him to hold up his right hand. The dying man disentangled it from 
the other, and held it up, but it instantly dropped again. Such was 
his state, when, in the solemn simplicity of the language of the law, 
he was asked, « What he had now to say, why judgment of death and 
execution thereon should not be awarded against him, according to 
law ?' Upon this Mr. Curran rose, and addressed some arguments to 
the court in arrest of judgment A legal discussion of considerable 
length ensued. The condition of Mr. Jackson was all this while 
becoming worse. Mr. Curran proposed that he should be remanded, 
as he was in a state of body that rendered any communication between 
him and his counsel impracticable : Lord Clonmel thought, it lenity 
to the prisoner, to dispose of the question as speedily as possible. 
The windows of the court were thrown open to relieve him, and the 
discussion was renewed ; but the fatal group of death-tokens were 
now collecting fast around him ; he was evidently in the final agony. 
At length, while Mr. Ponsonby, who followed Mr. Curran, was urging 
further reasons for arresting the judgment, their client sunk in ike 

It was found to be impossible to pronounce the sentence of death 
on the unfortunate gentleman. He had taken poison, and his voluntary 
act anticipated the operation of justice. Mr. Curran proceeds to 
comment upon the law as it was then expounded by the bench. He 
says, that the trial, as a matter of legal and constitutional interest, 
" established a precedent of the most vital (Englishmen would say, 
of the most fatal) importance to a community having any pretensions 
to freedom. Against the authority of Coke, and the reasoning of 
Blackstone, and against the positive reprobation of the principle by the 
English legislature, it was solemnly decided in Jackson's case, that in 
Ireland one witness was sufficient to convict a prisoner upon the charge 
of high treason — 'that the breath which cannot even taint the 
character of a man in England, shall in Ireland blow him from the 



earth/* This decision has ever since been recognized and acted upon, 
to the admiration of that class of politicians (and they have abounded 
in Ireland) who contend, that in every malady of the state, blood 
should be plentifully drawn ; and to the honest indignation of men of 
equal capacity and integrity, who consider that, without reason or 
necessity, it establishes an odious distinction, involving in it a disdain 
of what Englishmen boast as a precious privilege, alluring accusations 
upon the subject, and conferring security and omnipotence upon the 

" It is a little singular to observe, in the state trials that followed, 
the effects of such a law, and to what a class of witnesses it familiarised 
the Irish courts of justice. From the event it would appear* that there 
was as much of prophecy, as of constitutional seal, in Mr. Curraa's 
efforts to prevent its establishment, and afterwards to produce its 
repeal To say nothing but of a few of those cases in which he acted 
as counsel, the fate of Jackson, M'Cann, Byrne, Bond, the Sheareses, 
Finney, rested almost entirely on the credibility of a single witness. 
All of these, except the last, were convicted ; and that they were 
involved in the projects for which they were tried and suffered, is now 
a matter of historical notoriety. Few, it is hoped, will maintain the 
dangerous principle, that the subject should have the inducement of 
impunity to conspire against the state — such a doctrine would bring 
instant ruin upon any society ; but every friend to constitutional law 
win distinguish between the evidence that precedes a conviction and 
that which follows ; he will remember that the forms of trial, and the 
legality of evidence, have not been established for the solitary purpose 
of punishing the guilty ; that their most precious use is for the security 
of innocence ; and that, if fore-judging the real offender, we too hastily 
deprive him of a single privilege of defence, we establish a perilous 
role that survives the occasion and extends beyond it, and of which 
those who never offended may hereafter be the victims. If the trials 
of the individuals just named be considered with a reference to this 
view, they will be found to contain matter of important reflection. 
We may not feel justified in lamenting their personal fate — in giving 
to their memories ' the traitorous humanity and the rebel tear,' yet we 
eannot but be shocked at the characters of the persons by whose 
evidence they were carried off. These were, ail of them, men of 
blighted reputation. It was not merely that they had been accomplices 
in the crimes which they came to denounce ; and that, finding the 
speculation dangerous and unprofitable, they endeavoured to retrieve 
their credit and circumstances, by setting up as ' loyal apostates.' 

♦ Mr. Curraa's defence of Jackson. 


Deeper far was, if not their legal offence, their moral depravity. 
Dreadful were the confessions of guilt, dishonour, and irreligion, 
extorted from these wretches. If their direct examination produced a 
list of the prisoners' crimes, as regularly did their cross-examination 
elicit a darker catalogue of their own. In the progress of their career 
from participation to discovery, ail the tender charities of life were 
abused — every sacred tie rent asunder. The agent, by the semblance 
of fidelity, extracted the secret of his client and his friend, and betrayed 
him I* The spy resorted to the habitation of his victim, and, while 
sharing his hospitality, and fondling his children, was meditating his 
ruin.f Here was to be seen the wild atheist, who had gloried in 
his incredulity, enjoying a lucid interval of faith, to stamp a legal 
value on his oathj — there the dishonest dealer, the acknowledged 
perjurer, the future murderer.^" 

The remarks of the Edinburgh Eeview are forcible and just, and 
had the good fortune of giving rise to a new and safer system. On 
reading the Edinburgh Review, Lord Holland felt the inequality and 
injustice of the law, and, with his characteristic promptitude, intro- 
duced a bill to extend the provisions of the 7th Wm. HL, c 3, to 

" This case, however, is chiefly remarkable for having settled the 
point, that in Ireland a man may be convicted of treason on the 
testimony of a single witness. When the English statutes, requiring 
two, were adopted in that country, those declaratory clauses were 
omitted ; and the question came therefore to be, whether, on the old 
common law, two witnesses had not always been necessary for such a 
conviction. Lord Coke had given a clear opinion in the affirmative ; 
but Foster and Hawkins thought differently. There had been no trial 
for treason in Ireland for upwards of a century ; and the point had 

* Jackson's Trial. 

+ Jackson's Trial and the Trial of the Sheareses. A few days before Cockayne 
had openly announced himself as an informer, he was invited to accompany Jackson 
to dine with a friend of the latter. After dinner, as soon as the wine had suffi- 
ciently circulated, Jackson, according to a previous suggestion from Cockayne, 
began to sound the political dispositions of the company, and particularly addressed 
himself to a gentleman of rank who sat beside him, and who, there has been subse- 
quent reason to believe, was deeply involved in the politics of the time. During the 
conversation, Cockayne appeared to have fallen asleep ; but, in the midst of it, the 
master of the house was called out by his servant, who informed him, that he had 
observed something very singular in Mr. Jackson's friend — " he has his hand," 
said the servant, " over his face, and pretends to be asleep ; but when I was in the 
room just now, I could perceive the glistening of his eye through his fingers." The 
gentleman returned to his guests ; and, whispering to him who was conversing 
with Jackson to be cautious in his language, probably prevented some avowal 
which might eventually have cost him his life. Upon such trivial accidents do the 
fates of men depend in agitated times I 

X Trial of the Sheareses. 

§ Finney's Trial ; and other State Trials of 1796. 


never before occurred. It was determined, as we have already stated, 
in conformity with the more recent authorities ; though nothing can 
be more revolting than such an anomaly in the constitutional law of 
two united kingdoms — and nothing more disgusting than the scenes 
to which this decision speedily gave rise in the least fortunate of the 
two. The principle, it is manifest, cannot possibly be right in both : 
and the English prisoner must either have too many privileges, or the 
Irish too few. Nor is it possible to listen to the suggestion, that, from 
the state of society in Ireland, it was necessary to give the Crown this 
additional security : — For the same disordered or depraved state of 
morality which renders treason probable, is still more likely to produce 
false accusations ; and whoever will read the state trials, either in 
England or Ireland, will find that treason and perjury have always 
been contemporary crimes, and that the dangers of the crown and of 
the subject have uniformly been reciprocal." 

Jackson's funeral was well attended by numbers of the United 
Irishmen. Barrington says, " he had a splendid funeral, and, to the 
astonishment of Dublin, it was attended by several members of parlia- 
ment, and barristers! A Mr. Tighe, Counsellor Richard Guiness, 
(Sir Jonah, might have added the two Sheareses, also members of the 
profession), were amongst them/' It is unnecessary to remark, that 
Barrington was too consistent a patriot to be of the number of those 
who, as was said in the House of Commons,* " paid the honours of 
treason" to the unfortunate Jackson. 

He is buried in the churchyard of St. Michan's, where also are 
interred the remains of Oliver Bond, and of Henry and John Sheares. 

* Debates of the Irish House of Commons, Jane, 1795. 








34 and 35 obo. in. ▲.». 1794, 1795. 


Monday, June % 1794. 

Mr. M'Naixy, on the part of the Rev. William Jackson, a prisoner 
in his Majesty's goal of Newgate, moved the court, that Mr. Keane, 
the prisoner's agent, might have access to the prisoner, for the purpose 
of receiving instructions to prepare for his defence. Mr. Jackson was 
committed upon the 28th of April, 1794, by virtue of a warrant from 
Lord Clonmel, Chief-Justice of the King's Bench, upon a charge of 
High Treason ; Mr. Keane was refused access to Mr. Jackson, who 
was denied the use of pen, ink and paper, as Mr. Keane swears he is 
informed and believes. 

Mr. Attorney- General. — I have no objection that every reason- 
able access should be had to the prisoner ; but care must be taken 
that no improper use be made of it. The constant practice here and 
in England is to admit of access at reasonable times ; but persons are 
not to go in or come out without being searched, if necessary, so as 
that no opportunity be given of conveying instruments that might 
assist an escape, and also that no communications may be had with 
the King's enemies, that being the charge against the prisoner, that 
he communicated with the King's enemies for the purpose of levying 
war against this kingdom. 

The counsel for the prisoner being satisfied with this declaration of 
Mr. Attorney-General, took nothing by the motion. 


Monday, 30th June, 1794. 

A bill of indictment having been preferred against the Rev. William 
Jackson, before the Term Grand Jury for the city of Dublin, and they 
having returned it a true bill, Mr. Jackson was this day brought to 
the bar of the King's Bench, and having prayed that counsel might 
be assigned him, he was desired by the Court to name his counsel ; he 
named John Philpot Curran, and George Ponsonby, Esquires., two of 
his Majesty's counsel, who were assigned by the Court to be counsel 
for the prisoner. 

Clerk of the Crown. — William Jackson, hold up your right hand. 

Mr. Jackson accordingly held up his right hand and was arraigned 
upon the following indictment. 
County of the city of\" The jurors for our Lord the King upon their 

Dublin, to wit. J oath present, that an open and public war on 
the third day of April, in the thirty-fourth year of the reign of our 
Lord George the Third, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, 
and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, and soforth, and long before, 
and ever since, hitherto by land and by sea, was, and yet is carried on 
and prosecuted by the persons exercising the powers of government in 
France against our most serene, illustrious, and excellent Prince, oar 
said Lord the now King ; and that William Jackson, late of the parish 
of St. Andrew, in the city of Dublin, and county of the said city, 
clerk, a subject of our said Lord the King, of his kingdom of Ireland, 
well knowing the premises, but not having the fear of God in his heart, 
nor weighing the duty of his allegiance, and being moved and seduced 
by the instigation of the devil, as a false traitor against our said Lord 
the now King, his supreme, true, lawful and undoubted Lord, the 
cordial love and true and due obedience, which every true and dutiful 
subject of our said present Sovereign Lord the King towards him our 
said Lord the King should bear, wholly withdrawing, and contriving, 
and with all his strength intending the peace and common tranquillity 
of this kingdom of Ireland to disquiet, molest, and disturb, and the 
government of our said present Sovereign Lord the King of this 
kingdom of Ireland to change, subvert and alter, and our said Lord 
the King from the royal state, title, honour, power, imperial crown, 
and government of this his kingdom of Ireland to depose and deprive, 
and our said Lord the present King to death and final destruction to 
bring and put, he the said William Jackson, on the said third day of 
April, in the said thirty-fourth year of the reign of our said Lord the 
King, and on divers other days and times, as well before as after that 
day, at the parish of St. Andrew aforesaid, in the city of Dublin 
aforesaid, and county of the said city, with force and arms falsely, 
wickedly and traitorously, did compass, imagine and intend the said 
Lord the King, then and there his supreme, true and lawful Lord, of 
and from the royal state, crown, title, power and government of this 
his realm of Ireland, to depose and wholly deprive, and the same Lord 
the King to kill and bring and put to death : And that to fulfil, 
perfect and bring to effect his most evil and wicked treason, and 
treasonable imaginations and compassings aforesaid, he the said 
William Jackson as such false traitor as aforesaid, during the said war 
between our said Lord the King, and the said persons exercising the 



powers of government in France, to wit, on the third day of April in 
the thirty-fourth year aforesaid, at the parish of St. Andrew aforesaid, 
in the city and comity of the city of Dublin aforesaid, with force and 
arms, falsely, maliciously and traitorously did come to and land in 
this kingdom of Ireland, that is to say, at Dublin aforesaid, for the 
purpose of procuring and obtaining information and accounts of, and 
concerning the situations and dispositions of the subjects of our said 
Lord the King of his kingdom of Ireland, and of sending and causing 
to be sent such information and accounts to the said persons exercising 
the powers of government in France, and being enemies of our said 
Lord the King as aforesaid, with intent to aid and assist the said 
enemies of our said Lord the King, against our said Lord the King in 
the war aforesaid: And that afterwards and during the said war 
between the said Lord the King and the said persons exercising the 
powers of government in France, to wit, on the twenty-first day of 
April in the said thirty-fourth year of the reign of our said Lord the 
Sing, and on divers other days, as well before as after that day, 
with force and arms, at the parish of St. Andrew aforesaid, in the city 
and county of the city of Dublin aforesaid, the said William Jackson, 
as such false traitor as aforesaid, in further prosecution of his treason 
and treasonable purposes aforesaid, did, with divers other false traitors, 
whose names are to the said jurors unknown, falsely, wickedly 
and traitorously meet, propose, consult, conspire, confederate and agree 
to raise, levy and make insurrection, rebellion and war within this 
kingdom of Ireland, against our said Lord the King, and to cause, 
procure, and incite the said persons exercising the powers of govern- 
ment in France, being enemies of our said Lord the Bang as aforesaid, 
to invade this kingdom of Ireland with ships and armed men, and to 
carry on the said war against the said Lord the King, within this 
kingdom of Ireland. And that during the said war between our 
said Lord the King and the said persons exercising the powers of 
government in France, to wit, on the said twenty-first day of April, in 
the thirty-fourth year aforesaid, at the parish of St Andrew aforesaid, 
in the city and county of the city of Dublin aforesaid, the said 
William Jackson, as such false traitor as aforesaid, and in further 
prosecution of his treason and treasonable purposes aforesaid, with 
force and arms, falsely, wickedly and traitorously did incite, exhort 
and counsel, and as far as in him lay, endeavour to move and persuade 
one Theobald Wolfe Tone to travel and go into parts beyond the seas 
to represent to the said persons exercising the powers of government 
in France, and being enemies of our said Lord the King as aforesaid, 
that divers subjects of our said Lord the King of his kingdom of Ire- 
land were dissatisfied with the government of our said Lord the King 
of his kingdom of Ireland, and to incite, move, and persuade the said 
persons exercising the powers of government in France, and being 
enemies of our said Lord the King to invade the kingdom of Ireland, 
and to raise and make war therein against our said Lord the King, 
and that during the said war between the said Lord the King and the 
said persons exercising the powers of government in France to wit, 
on the same day and year last aforesaid, and on divers other days as 
well before as after the said last mentioned day, at the parish of St. 
Andrew aforesaid, in the city and county of the city of Dublin afore- 


said, the said William Jackson as such false traitor as aforesaid, in 
further prosecution of his treason and treasonable purposes, with force 
and arms, falsely, wickedly and traitorously did consult, combine, 
conspire, confederate and agree with divers other persons whose names 
are to the said jurors unknown, to procure and provide a person to 
travel and go into parts beyond the seas to represent to the said persons 
exercising the powers of government in France and being enemies of 
our said Lord the King as aforesaid, that divers subjects of our said 
Lord the King of his Kingdom of Ireland were dissatisfied with the 
government of our said Lord the King of his kingdom of Ireland, and 
to incite, move and persuade the said persons exercising the powers 
of government in France, and being enemies of our said Lord the King 
to invade this kingdom of Ireland, and to raise and make war therein 
against our said Lord the King : And that during the said war between 
our said Lord the King and the persons exercising the powers of 
government in France to wit on the same day and year last aforesaid, 
and on divers other days as well before the said last mentioned day as 
after, at the parish of St. Andrew aforesaid, in the city and county of 
the city of Dublin aforesaid, the said William Jackson as such false 
traitor as aforesaid, in further prosecution of his treason and treason- 
able purposes aforesaid, with force and arms, falsely, wickedly and 
traitorously did meet, consult, combine, conspire, confederate and 
agree with divers other persons whose names are to the said jurors 
unknown ; that some person should be sent into France to notify and 
reveal to the said persons exercising the powers of government in 
France, then and yet enemies of our said Lord the King, the state, 
circumstances, and condition of this his kingdom of Ireland ; and the 
dispositions and inclinations of our said Lord the King's subjects 
therein, and to treat and negociate with, and to incite, stir up and 
encourage the said persons exercising the powers of government in 
France, then and yet enemies of our said Lord the King as aforesaid to 
invade this kingdom of Ireland, and to change, alter and subvert the 
government of our said Lord the King of his said kingdom of Ireland. 
And that during the said war between our said Lord the King and 
the said persons exercising the powers of government in France to 
wit, on the said twenty-first day of April in the thirty-fourth year 
aforesaid, at the parish of St. Andrew aforesaid, in the city and 
county of the city of Dublin aforesaid ; he the said William Jackson 
as such false traitor as aforesaid in prosecution of his said treason and 
treasonable purposes aforesaid, with force and arms, falsely, wickedly, 
and traitorously did compose and write, and cause to be composed and 
written, a certain letter to be sent to one William Stone in London, in 
the kingdom of Great Britain ; and in and by the said letter the said Wm. 
Jackson, falsely, wickedly, and traitorously did direct and instruct the 
said William Stone, to reveal and disclose to the said persons exercising 
the powers of government in France, and to the people in France, 
then and yet enemies of our said present Lord the King, a scheme and 
intention of the said William Jackson and other false traitors to our 
said Lord the King, to send a person from this kingdom of Ireland to 
satisfy and convince the said persons exercising the powers of 
government in France so being enemies of our said Lord the King as 
aforesaid, of divers of his said Majesty's subjects in Ireland being 



ready to aid and assist the saidjfnemies of our said Lord the King, and 
to treat and negociate with the said persons exercising the powers of 
government in France, then and jet enemies of our said Lord the 
King for an invasion of the said kingdom of Ireland, but that 
the private affairs of the person intended to be sent would not permit 
him to go, and therefore he the said William Jackson would send a 
statement of the situation and disposition of the inhabitants of 
the said kingdom of Ireland, drawn up by a certain person to the 
jurors unknown in order to be sent and delivered to the said persons 
exercising the powers of government in France then and yet enemies 
of our said Lord the Sing : And that daring the said war between 
ear said Lord the King and the said persons exercising the powers of 
government in France to wit, on the twenty-fourth day of April in 
the thirty-fourth year aforesaid, at the parish of St. Andrew aforesaid, 
in the city and county of the city of Dublin aforesaid, the said 
William Jackson as such false traitor as aforesaid, and in further 
prosecution of his treason and treasonable purposes aforesaid, with 
force and arms, falsely, maliciously, and traitorously did compose and 
write and cause to be composed and written, a certain other letter to 
be sent to the said William Stone in London, in the Kingdom of 
Great Britain, requesting the said William Stone to cause and procure 
to be notified and declared to a certain person then being in foreign 
parts beyond the seas, but whose name is to the said jurors unknown, 
mat a statement of the situation and dispositions of divers of the 
subjects of our said Lord the King of his kingdom of Ireland, would 
be forthwith sent by him the said William Jackson to be communicated 
to the said persons exercising the powers of government in France, 
and being enemies of our said Lord the King as aforesaid, to convince 
them of the readiness of such last mentioned subjects of our said 
Lord the King, to aid and assist the said enemies of our said Lord the 
King in an invasion of this kingdom of Ireland : And that during the 
said war between our said Lord the King and the said persons 
exercising the powers of government in France, to wit, on the same 
day and year last aforesaid, at the parish of St. Andrew, aforesaid, 
in the city and county of the city of Dublin aforesaid, the said 
William Jackson as such false traitor as aforesaid, and in further 
prosecution of his treason and treasonable purposes aforesaid, with 
force and arms, falsely, wickedly and traitorously delivered and 
caused and procured to be delivered the said letters into the office of 
the post at Dublin, aforesaid, to be from the said office conveyed and 
delivered to the said William Stone: And that during the said 
war between our said Lord the King and the said persons exercising 
the powers of government in France, to wit, on the same day and 
year last aforesaid, at the parish of St. Andrew, aforesaid, in the city 
and county of the city of Dublin, aforesaid, the said William Jackson 
as such false traitor as aforesaid, and in further prosecution of 
his treason and treasonable purposes aforesaid, with force and arms, 
falsely, maliciously and traitorously did compose and write and cause 
and procure to be composed and written a certain other letter to be 
sent to Benjamin Beresford, in foreign parts beyond the seas, 
requesting the said Benjamin Beresford to inform a certain other 
person then also living in foreign parts beyond the seas, but whose 


name is to the said jurors unknown, that an account of the situation 
and dispositions of divers of the subjects of our said Lord the King of 
his kingdom of Ireland, was sent for the said last mentioned person 
unknown to be communicated to the said persons exercising the 
powers of government in France and being enemies of our said Lord 
the Bang as aforesaid : And that afterwards and during the said war 
between our said Lord the King and the said persons exercising 
the powers of government in France, to wit, on the same day and 
year last aforesaid at the parish of St. Andrew, aforesaid, in the city 
and county of the city of Dublin, aforesaid, the said William Jackson 
as such false traitor as aforesaid, and in further prosecution of his 
treason and treasonable purposes aforesaid, with force and arms, 
falsely, wickedly and traitorously delivered and caused and procured 
to be delivered the said last mentioned letter into the said office of the 
post at Dublin, aforesaid, to be from the said office conveyed and 
delivered to the said Benjamin Beresford : and that during the said 
war between our said Lord the King and the said persons exercising 
the powers of government in France, to wit, on the same day and 
year last aforesaid, at the parish of St. Andrew, aforesaid, in the city 
and county of the city of Dublin, aforesaid, the said William Jackson 
as such false traitor as aforesaid and in further prosecution of 
his treason and treasonable purposes aforesaid, with force and arms, 
falsely, maliciously, and traitorously did compose and write and 
cause and procure to be composed and written divers accounts and 
instructions in writing to publish and declare to the said persons 
exercising the powers of government in France, and being ene- 
mies of our said Lord the King for the purpose of inciting 
the said persons to invade this kingdom of Ireland, and to 
raise and make war therein against our said Lord the King, divers 
matters and things of and concerning the people of this kingdom of 
Ireland, and amongst other things that the Dissenters were steady 
republicans, devoted to liberty, and through all the stages of the 
French revolution had been enthusiastically attached to it, that the 
peasantry of Ireland manifested a degree of discontent by various 
insurrections, that there was no where a higher spirit of aristocracy 
than in all the privileged orders, the clergy and the gentry of Ireland 
down to the very lowest, to countervail which there appeared a spirit 
rising in the people which never existed before but which was spread- 
ing most rapidly as appeared by the Defenders as they were called 
and other insurgents, that in Ireland the name of England and her 
power was universally odious, save with those who had an interest in 
maintaining it, a body however only formidable by property and situ- 
ation, but which the first convulsion would level in the dust, that on 
the contrary the great bulk of the people (meaning the people of 
Ireland,) would be ready to throw off the yoke (meaning the govern- 
ment of our said Lord the King in that country) if they saw any 
force sufficiently strong to resort to for defence till arrangements 
could be made, that the government of Ireland was only to be looked 
upon as a government of force, that the moment a superior force 
appeared, it would tumble at once, as being founded neither in the 
interests nor in the affections of the people ; that there seemed little 
doubt but an invasion (meaning an invasion of Ireland, by the said 



enemies of our said Lord the King) in sufficient force, would be sup- 
ported by the people (meaning the people of Ireland) that there was 
scarcely any army in the country (meaning in Ireland) and that the 
militia, (meaning the militia of Ireland) would to a moral certainty 
refuse to act if they should see such a force as they could look to for 
support : And also that the said William Jackson as such false traitor 
as aforesaid, during the said war between our said Lord the King 
and the said persons exercising the powers of government in France 
to wit, on the same day and year last aforesaid, at the parish of Saint 
Andrew aforesaid, in the city and county of the city of Dublin 
aforesaid in further prosecution of his treason and treasonable pur- 
poses aforesaid with force and arms did falsely, wickedly and traitor- 
ously compose and write, and cause and procure to be composed and 
written divers other accounts and instructions in writing of and con- 
cerning the people of this kingdom of Ireland to incite, move and 
persuade the said persons exercising the powers of government in 
France, and being enemies of our said Lord the King as aforesaid, 
to invade this kingdom of Ireland and to raise and make war therein 
against our said Lord the King, all which said accounts and instruc- 
tions in writing herein before mentioned to have been written and 
composed, and caused and procured to be written and composed by 
the said William Jackson, he the said William Jackson as such false 
traitor as aforesaid, and in further prosecution of his treason and 
treasonable purposes aforesaid, afterwards and during the said war 
between our said Lord the King and the said persons exercising the 
powers of government in France, to wit, on the same day and year 
last aforesaid at the parish of St. Andrew aforesaid in the city and 
county of the city of Dublin aforesaid with force and arms falsely, 
wickedly and traitorously delivered and caused and procured to be 
delivered into the said office of the post at Dublin aforesaid, to be 
from thence conveyed into foreign parts beyond the seas, and 
there, to wit, in foreign parts beyond the seas to be delivered to 
certain persons on the behalf and for the use of the said persons ex- 
ercising the powers of government in France and being enemies of 
our said Lord the King as aforesaid, for the information, encourage- 
ment and assistance of the said persons exercising the powers of govern- 
ment in France, and being enemies of our said Lord the King as afore- 
said : And that during the said war between our said Lord the King 
and the said persons exercising the powers of government in France, 
to wit, on the same day and year last aforesaid, at the parish aforesaid, 
in the city and county of the city of Dublin, the said Wm. Jackson 
as such false traitor as aforesaid, and in further prosecution of his trea- 
son and treasonable purposes aforesaid with force and arms falsely, 
wickedly and traitorously delivered and caused and procured to be de- 
livered into the said office of the post at Dublin aforesaid, to be from 
thence conveyed into foreign parts beyond the seas and delivered to the 
said persons exercising the powers of government in France, and being 
enemies of our said Lord the Bang as aforesaid, for the purpose of in- 
citing the said persons to invade the kingdom of Ireland and to raise 
and make war therein against our said Lord the King, divers other 
accounts and instructions in writing of and concerning the people of 
this kingdom of Ireland, whereof he the said William Jackson then 


and there well knew the contents, purporting and containing therein 
amongst other things that the Dissenters were steady republicans 
devoted to liberty, and through all the stages of the French revolu- 
tion had been enthusiastically attached to it; that the peasantry of 
Ireland manifested a degree of discontent by various insurrections, 
that there was no where a higher spirit of aristocracy than in 
all the privileged orders, the clergy and the gentry of Ireland down 
to the very lowest, to countervail which there appeared a spirit rising 
in people which never existed before, but which was spreading moat 
rapidly as appeared by the Defenders, as they were called, and other 
insurgents ; that in Ireland the name of England and her power was 
universally odious, save with those who had an interest in maintain- 
ing it ; a body however only formidable from situation and property, 
but which the first convulsion would level in the dust ; that on the 
contrary, the great bulk of the people (meaning the people of Ire- 
land) would be ready to throw off the yoke, if they saw any force 
sufficiently strong to resort to for defence till arrangements could be 
made ; that the government of Ireland was only to be looked upon 
as a government of force : that the moment a superior force appeared, 
it would tumble at once as being founded neither in the interests nor 
in the affections of the people ; that there seemed- little doubt but an 
invasion (meaning an invasion of Ireland by the said enemies of our 
said Lord the King) in sufficient force, would be supported by the 
people, (meaning the people of Ireland,) that there was scarcely any 
army in the country (meaning in Ireland,) and that the militia 
(meaning the militia of Ireland,) would to a moral certainty refuse 
to act if they should see such a force as they could look to for sup- 
port : And also that the said William Jackson as such false traitor as 
aforesaid during the said war between our said Lord the King and 
the said persons exercising the powers of government in France, to 
wit, on the same day and year last aforesaid, at the parish of St. 
Andrew aforesaid, in the city and county of the city of Dublin 
aforesaid in further prosecution of his treason and treasonable pur- 
poses aforesaid, with force and arms, falsely, wickedly and traitor- 
ously delivered into the said office of the post at Dublin aforesaid, to 
be from thence carried into foreign parts beyond the seas, and 
delivered to the said persons exercising the powers of government in 
France, and being enemies of our said Lord the King as aforesaid, 
divers other accounts and instructions in writing, of and concerning 
the people of this kingdom of Ireland, whereof he the said William 
Jackson then and there well knew the contents, to incite, move and 
persuade the said persons exercising the powers of government in 
France, and being enemies of our said Lord the King as aforesaid, 
to invade this kingdom of Ireland, and to raise and make war therein, 
against our said Lord the Sang, against the duty of the allegiance of 
him the said William Jackson, against the peace of our said Lord 
the King, his crown and dignity, and contrary to the form of the 
statute in such case made and provided. 

And the said jurors for our said Sovereign Lord the King, upon 
their oath, further present ; that an open and public war on the said 
third day of April, in the thirty-fourth year of the reign of our said 
Sovereign Lord George the Third, by the Grace of God of Great 


Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, and so forth, 
and long before and ever since, hitherto by land and by sea was and 
yet is carried on and prosecuted by the said persons, exercising the 
powers of government in France, against our most serene, illustrious 
and excellent Prince, our said Lord the now King ; and that the said 
William Jackson, a subject of our said Lord the King of his kingdom 
of Ireland, well knowing the premises, not having the fear of God in 
his heart, nor weighing the duty of his allegiance, but being moved 
and seduced by the instigation of the devil ; as a false traitor against 
our most serene, illustrious and excellent Prince, George the Third, 
now King of Ireland, and so forth ; and contriving and with all his 
strength intending the peace and common tranquillity of this kingdom 
of Ireland to disquiet, molest, and disturb, and the government of our 
said present Sovereign Lord the King of this kingdom of Ireland, to 
change, subvert and alter ; he the said William Jackson, during the 
war aforesaid, to wit on the said third day of April, in the thirty- 
fourth year aforesaid, and on divers other days and times, as well 
before as after that day, with force and arms at the said parish of St. 
Andrew in the city of Dublin aforesaid, and county of the said city, 
unlawfully and traitorously was adhering to, and aiding and comfort- 
ing the said persons, exercising the powers of government in France, 
and then being enemies of our said present Sovereign Lord the King 
as aforesaid ; that in the prosecution, performance and execution of 
the said traitorous adhering of the said William Jackson to the said 
persons exercising the powers of government in France then being 
enemies of our said Lord the present King afterwards and during the 
said war between our said Lord the King and the said persons exer- 
cising the powers of government in France, to wit, on the said third 
day of April, in the thirty-fourth year aforesaid, at the parish of St. 
Andrew aforesaid, in the city and the county of the city of Dublin 
aforesaid, he the said William Jackson as such false traitor as afore- 
said with force and arms falsely, maliciously and traitorously did come 
to and land in this kingdom of Ireland that is to say at Dublin afore- 
said, for the purpose of procuring and obtaining information and 
accounts of and concerning the situation and disposition of the sub- 
jects of our said Lord the King of his kingdom of Ireland, and of 
sending and causing to be sent such information and accounts to the 
said persons exercising the powers of government in France and 
being enemies of our said Lord the King as aforesaid, with an intent 
to aid and assist the said enemies of our said Lord the King against 
our said Lord the King in the war aforesaid." 

[The indictment then proceeds to enumerate the same overt acts 
mentioned in support of the first charge.] 

Clerk of the Crown. — How say you, William Jackson, are you 
guilty of the treason whereof you stand indicted, and arraigned or 

Mr. Jackson. — Not guilty. 

Clerk of the Crown — Culprit, how will you be tried ? 

Mr. Jackson. — By God and my country. 

Clerk of the Crown. — God send you a good deliverance. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — I am now humbly to move your Lord- 


ships, that a day may be appointed for the trial of the prisoner. If 
the prisoner be not ready for his trial this term, I have no objection 
to its being postponed until the next term. 

Mr. Curran. — I have been assigned by the court as connsel for 
the prisoner. It is rather the duty of my client in his present situa- 
tion, to wait until he is apprized of what the inclination of the court 
may be, before he expresses his wish upon the subject. 

Lord Clonmel, Chief - Justice. — Undoubtedly the first duty 
of this court is to dispose of the crown business, which may come 
before it. 

Mr. Curban. — If my client is to understand that the inclination 
of the court is to appoint a day for the trial in this term, it will be 
necessary for me to address a word or two to the court. I make no 
difficulty of saying in this case, that being concerned as counsel for a 
man in a perilous situation, I cannot think of wasting any claim he 
may have to indulgence. It is better he should submit to any order 
made by the court, than urge any application from himself. 

Lord Clonmel, Chief- Justice. — I do not exactly see the object of 
this address. 

Mr. Curran. — I mean to enquire whether the court wish to try 
the prisoner this term. 

Lord Clonmel, Chief-Justice. — The court have no wish about it* 
Their first duty is to go through the business. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — I will put an end to this, I move to 
appoint the first return day in the next term for the trial. 

Lord Clonmel, Chief- Justice. — The prisoner is in a country where 
he will have every possible advantage to prepare for his trial. 

Friday, the 7th of November, being appointed for his trial, he was 
remanded to Newgate without any objection. 

Friday, 7th November. 1794. 

The Court having sat, Mr. Jackson was put to the bar, and the 
Sheriff of the city of Dublin was ordered to return his venire, which 
he did, and the Clerk of the Crown called it over. 

Mr. Curran. — This trial was appointed for this day. It is more 
becoming, not to wait to see whether the counsel for the crown will 
say anything as to putting off the trial, but to state how my client is 
circumstanced. He has been in goal for many months. He was 
arraigned last term, when he pleaded, and the court were pleased to 
appoint this day for his trial. All the interval he has employed in 
the most deliberate preparations for his defence. Though a native 
of this country, his life has been spent out of it. He sent his wife to 
England to attend upon such witnesses as he thought necessary for 
the trial. She spent part of the summer in England where an agent 
was employed, and Mr. Jackson himself sent another upon the same 
business. These circumstances are ready to be proved by affidavit 
Mrs. Jackson remained in England some time, and came back to 
prepare for the necessary attendance. Some property, which was the 
joint property of both, has been sold for about one-tenth of its value, 
to defray the expense of bringing over witnesses, who cannot be 


compelled to attend by any process of this court, and therefore their 
demands must be complied with** 

Lord Cloktmel, Chief-Justice. — The object of your application is, 
that the prisoner is not ready for his triaL 

Mr. Curhah. — It is : the application could not be made before, 
because the court did not sit, and the prisoner had expected that the 
witnesses would arrive. A considerable sum of money was paid to 
defray their expenses, and certain matters of record are to be brought 
upon a security of £500 for their being returned. Mr. Nailor, an 
English agent, has them in his possession, and he was expected here 
by this time. He is a material witness, and his arrival with the 
others was expected : — they are not yet arrived. There appeared a 
paragraph in the English newspapers, that this trial was put off to 
the 21st instant. Mr. Jackson states that his witnesses might be led 
into error by this publication, which was made without any conni- 
vance, or privity of his. There is another circumstance : In the last 
Term, the court assigned the prisoner two counsel ; Mr. Ponsonby 
was one of them ; he is in England ; his arrival was expected by this 
tune : he is not yet arrived, and the consequence is, that Mr. Jackson 
will be deprived of the aid of one of his counsel. As to the compara- 
tive aid of others, it is unnecessary to compute it : the court will feel 
the weight of the circumstance I have mentioned. The prisoner 
swears he cannot with safety to his life go to trial without his witnesses ; 
he has done everything to procure their attendance, and does expect 
them and his counsel upon any future day to which the court shall 
think proper to postpone the trial 

Lord Clonmel, Chief- Justice. — In this term ? 

Mr. Cubran. — He instructs me to speak with the utmost candour. 
His wish is to be tried ; he means no artificial delay whatever. 

Lord Clokmel, Chief- Justice. — If this affidavit be not sworn, let 
it be sworn now ; when it is, let it be read. 

Three affidavits were then sworn 5 one by the prisoner, a second by 
his wife, a third by his agent, setting forth the endeavours which had 
been used to procure the attendance of witnesses, as stated by Mr. 

Lord Clonmex, Chief- Justice. — What time do you desire ? 

Mr. Cubran. — He would wish to have the trial this term if pos- 
sible to avoid expense. The witnesses may be on their way, and if a 
day be appointed, it is possible they may not be here on that day. 
Mr. Jackson feels the necessary respect for the court ; but he would 
rather wish to postpone the trial until the next term, than have any 
day named in this, lest there might be a disappointment, in which 
case, it would be impossible to name another day in the same term, 
as there would not be time for the jury process. But I will leave it 
entirely to the court, I press no day. It is the prisoner's wish to be 
tried, if he can be ready ; if the witnesses arrive, it is the wish of his 
heart to be tried. 

• By the 45 Geo. III. e. 92, s. 3 — Service of subpoena on a witness in one part 
of the United Kingdom, to give evidence in a criminal prosecution, is as effectual 
as if the witness had been served with the subpoena in that part of the United 
Kingdom where he is required to appear, 1 Starkie Law of Evidence, 83 ; but his 
reasonable expenses must be tendered to him. 


Mr. Jackson. — My Lords, the impression I would wish to leave 
on this court is, that notwithstanding four months might appear suf- 
ficient for preparation, yet with the utmost exertion, I have not been 
prepared. Ten days after my trial was postponed, I put matters in 
arrangement ; every exertion was used to bring over the witnesses 
and documents ; notices were served upon certain persons in England 
to produce certain documents, or correspondences relative to my con- 
duct : — These have not been brought over, and the agent in England 
has been so grossly imposed upon, from the idea that the trial was 
put off, that he wrote to my wife that he would not come over, until 
he heard from me. Why this paragraph was put into the papers in 
England, and copied into the papers in this town, I cannot say. I 
never felt a greater disappointment in my life than in not being tried 
this day. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — On the part of the crown it is my 
duty to yield to every thing, consistent with the administration of 
justice, not only that the subject may have justice administered to 
him, but that all mankind may see it is administered fairly. An affi- 
davit has been read, stating some circumstances material to the point 
Others have been read, which cannot have any influence whatever. 
I say this, that they may not weigh with the public mind. It is idle 
to say that paragraphs in the papers of England or Ireland can have 
any weight ; they might be put in by persons, knowing nothing of 
the matter, which might be the present case ; it is impossible any 
agent could be so ignorant as to be deceived by it. Another circum- 
stance is the absence of Mr. Ponsonby. The bar of Ireland furnishes 
able men fully adequate to conduct a trial of this kind : — There are 
men as able as Mr. Ponsonby, and when I say that, I mean to pay 
no small compliment to him. The prisoner swears that some docu- 
ments are necessary to be had, and that witnesses are to be brought 
over: — Under such circumstances, I should not think myself justi- 
fiable in resisting the application ; therefore I submit to the court 
with deference, that the rule should be to postpone the trial ; and 
that there may be no ground for an application of this kind in future, 
I submit, that it would be best to postpone the trial to the next term, 
that the witnesses, both for the crown and the prisoner may attend, 
and have full notice of the time when they are to attend. As to 
postponing the trial to a day in this term, and then to have it post- 
poned again, if the witnesses do not attend, it may be done, but it is 
not regular to make an order upon a contingency of that kind. The 
first Monday in the next term will be a proper day. I do not find, 
that the prisoner complains, but the world should know, that he is 
treated with all the indulgence, a man in his unfortunate situation 
can be. He was indicted as soon as possible, and he was brought up 
for trial at a time that the witnesses for the crown were ready ; he 
then applied to postpone his trial. 

Mr. Jackson. — My Lords, may I be admitted to say a word or 
two ? Entirely contrary to what has been complained of by several 
in my situation in England, I will thus observe, and testify in the 
face of this court, and the world at large, that for a man in my situa- 
tion, it is impossible to be treated with more tenderness, humanity, 
and attention, than I have experienced. Whether the complaints in 


Knghmd be well founded, or not, the treatment I have met with is 
not surprising, because it only proves, what every one knows, that 
humanity is the characteristic of Ireland. 

Lord Ci*onmel» Chief Justice, — In this case it is unnecessary to 
know what passes in England, a country as famed for justice, and 
other great qualifications, as any other country: Justice is there 
administered in such a manner as to exalt it above the other countries 
of the earth. It is our duty to administer justice in such a way as to 
give satisfaction to all parties. I am glad to see, that the prisoner 
thinks he is well treated. The court has been entirely passive upon 
the subject, forming the rule upon the consent on both sides. At 
present there appears to be nothing materially different between the 
gentlemen concerned on both sides. It will be better to appoint a 
certain day ; it may lessen the expense to the prisoner, to give ample 
and full time to be fairly prepared for the trial of his life, that he 
may not want any evidence that the blessings of this constitution can 
furnish him with — that he may come furnished with every possible 
defence that time and abilities can supply on the one hand ; on the 
other, judges are to see, that the punishment of flagitious crimes be 
not trifled with, but that the law may be administered with calmness 
and vigour. These are my sentiments, and from the opinion I have 
of my brethren, are their sentiments. To apply them to the present 
occasion there is no question to debate upon this application. The 
most probable way to have an effectual trial will be to appoint the 
first Monday in the next term. Be it so. 

Mr. Jackson. — My Lords, I have been six months confined in a 
single room. If I might be permitted occasionally, and that very 
seldom indeed, with the keeper of the prison, to walk in the yard 
early in the morning, I would be glad of it. 

Lord Clonmel, Chief-Justice. — The court cannot meddle with 
that. If you complain of oppression, we will interfere. 

The prisoner was then remanded. 

Monday, January 26th, 1795. 

The prisoner was this day put to the bar, and the Clerk of the 
Crown asked him, was he ready for his trial. He said he was. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — My Lords, I am on the part of the 
Crown to move the court to postpone the trial in this case to some 
day within the term, in such time as may give an opportunity to issue 
a venire with the usual return of fifteen days, which can be upon the 
10th of February next. The ground of my application is this, that 
one of the witnesses is absent and cannot attend this day.* I have 
an affidavit in my hand, sworn by Mr. Kemmis, the Crown Solicitor, 
stating, that he used the utmost diligence to bring over the witnesses 
from England, all of whom, except two, reside in London, and they 
all attended last term, when at the prisoner's desire the trial was post- 
poned Mr. Kemmis states by his affidavit, that John Cockayne, a 
witness, without whose testimony the justice of the case cannot be 
attained, did write a letter from London, stating that he was in an ill 

* Bex v. Jones, 8 East. 31. Rex v. D'Eon, 3 Burr. 1513. 1 Bl. 510. 

200 TEIAL8 OF 

state of health, but would set out on the next day, attended by Mr. 
Mounsey, another witness : Mr. Kemmis also states that he received 
another letter from C. Mounsey, dated Holyhead, January 24th insU, 
mentioning that he and Mr. Cockayne had arrived there, but that the 
severity of the weather, and the quantity of snow upon the roads 
prevented them from using more expedition ; that Mr. Cockayne was 
in an ill state of health, that he consulted a surgeon, who advised 
him not to set out for Dublin. Mr. Kemmis swears that he received 
these letters by post, that he believes them to be genuine, and the 
contents of them to be true. Under these circumstances, it cannot 
be disputed that the trial must be postponed, it will be for the gentle- 
men concerned for the prisoner to say, whether they would have any 
thing added to the rule. 

Here the affidavit was read, and it appeared to contain the facts 
stated by Mr. Attorney- General. 

Mr. Curran, for the prisoner. — It is submitted to the court, that 
this affidavit does not lay any ground to warrant your lordships in 
postponing this trial. There is one fact stated, which Mr. Kemmis 
does not recollect precisely : he was mistaken in saying, that the trial 
was put off upon the arraignment, at the instance of the prisoner. 
The arraignment was too late in Trinity Term to bring on the triaL 
In the last term, the trial was postponed at the instance and upon the 
motion of the prisoner, and in consequence of that, it comes on now, 
unless it be the pleasure of the court to postpone it further. This 
man has been lying in gaol since the middle of April last, and it is 
not a matter of course for the crown to postpone a trial, where the 
party has remained so long in prison, and is ready for his trial. If it 
were, there would be a way of exterminating almost any man in the 
community, with more certainty than could follow any trial, because 
trial and conviction can extend only to guilt, but that kind of silent 
extermination may fall upon the innocent. To postpone the trial at 
the present time, there ought to be proper verified matters of fact 
laid before the court. If that rule be a true one, it is impossible to 
postpone the trial upon this affidavit, because it does not state any 
verified matter of fact : there is no circumstance stated but upon the 
belief of Mr. Kemmis. There is no affidavit by the meanest process- 
server, that he made any request personally, or that Cockayne made 
any promise to attend. A letter has been spoken of: is there any 
affidavit of any man, that says he knows the handwriting of Cockayne, 
and knows this letter to be his handwriting ? Mr. Kemmis says he 
received this letter. Does he know the handwriting? No: he believes 
it is Cockayne's letter. Does he say why he believes it ? Does he 
state that the letter promises he would attend at any other time ? 
Not a word. It states that he is sick. But there ought to be esta- 
blished facts laid before the court. Let the gentlemen concerned for 
the crown make the motion as a matter of course, because they do 
not wish to go on with the trial, finding it is either impracticable, or 
nugatory ; or let them lay some satisfactory matter for the purpose. 
I submit that there is nothing to intitle them to the order now sought 

Mr. P0N8ONBY on the same side. — My Lords, I humbly submit, 
that this affidavit does not state sufficient matter to intitle the crown 


to put off the trial. The affidavit should state specifically that the 
person, on account of whose absence the trial cannot go on, was a 
material witness. The affidavit does not state that positively ; Mr. 
Xemmis only says, he believes, and he used these extraordinary words, 
" that the justice of the case cannot be attained without this witness." 
— What does Mr. Kemmis call the justice of the case ? — Hanging my 
client without the verdict of a jury, or the sentence of your Lord- 
ships. The affidavit does not state positively, that the witness was 
material for the prosecution ; neither does it state that his attendance 
is expected, or that there is reasonable ground to believe he will 
attend at any future day. There is no instance, even in a civil case, 
where a trial is put off, unless the party swears positively that the 
witness is material, and that there was reasonable ground to expect 
his attendance. The letter mentioned in the affidavit does not state, 
that the witness will come ; the certificate of the surgeon does not 
state, that the indisposition will permit the witness to attend at a 
future day, nor does the Crown Solicitor say he has reason to think 
the witness will attend. Therefore the ingredients, which are thought 
material in civil cases, are wanting in this case. How much more 
material are they in a case of treason, and where the party has lain 
nine months in gaol ? — This is a mere imposition upon the simplicity 
of the Crown Solicitor. 

Mr. Prime Serjeant in reply for the crown. — As it strikes me, 
this affidavit is more full and pregnant with circumstances to lead the 
discretion of the court than any I remember. The first position is, 
that John Cockayne is a material witness, as he believes for the 
crown. How is it possible for any man to swear to more than 
belief in such a case ? it is impossible to conjecture. But if there 
be any doubt upon the materiality of his evidence, your lordships 
have before you, that which will satisfy you whether it be material 
or not. Upon looking into the informations, you can form a 
conclusion whether this man's testimony be material or not, at 
least to put the prisoner upon trial; — the jury will determine 
whether it be sufficient for conviction. The next position is, 
that the justice of the case cannot be attained without the examina- 
tion of Cockayne, as deponent believes. Look then to the same 
document, and see whether the examination of Cockayne be not 
essentially necessary to the justice of the case. The next fact stated 
is, that this trial was postponed in Trinity term ; it is not pretended 
that it was postponed at the desire of the crown, nor will I say it / 
was at the desire of the prisoner. It was with the concurrence of 
the prisoner's counsel ; all the witnesses for the crown attended at 
that time. So it rested until November ; then an application was 
made on the part of the prisoner to postpone the trial. The counsel 
for the crown did not resist the application, that the prisoner might 
have an opportunity of vindicating his character upon a fair trial. 
The trial being appointed for this day, the Crown Solicitor states, 
that on the 17th of January inst. he received a letter, which he 
believes to be genuine, from Mr. Cockayne, stating that he would 
set out the next day from London for Ireland to give evidence upon 
this trial. Then the Solicitor states that he received a letter on 
Saturday, the 24th inst from Mr. Mounsey, who accompanied 


Cockayne to Holyhead, where the Solicitor swears he believes Cock- 
ayne now is. The letter mentions, that Cockayne had come so far in 
prosecution of his intention : the letter contains the certificate of the 
surgeon enclosed, as to his state of health. It is said, there is no 
affidavit of any process being served. Where a party has given in- 
formations, and is bound to prosecute, it is not thought necessary to 
serve any process to compel his appearance, because he has entered 
into a recognizance to appear. If there had been no recognizance 
and the witness lived in Ireland, process might be necessary ; but I 
do not know the effect of any process served upon a witness in 
England to attend in Ireland : I give no opinion how far such a pro- 
cess would be obligatory ; but where a party is bound by matter of 
record, it would be absurd to call upon him by process. The Solicitor 
for the crown says he has used his best endeavours and diligence to 
have the prisoner tried with all possible expedition. This application 
is made only in consequence of the absence of Cockayne ; if the 
trial be postponed, the Solicitor states he is in hopes Cockayne will 
attend : — What hopes can be more reasonable where the party has 
come so far as Holyhead ? If the Solicitor for the crown had stated 
his belief without any reason for it, could it be so strong as where 
he has assigned his reasons ? — He swears the witnesses are at Holy- 
head, as he believes, and that the letters are genuine. If these 
matters be not sufficient to postpone the trial, I am much mistaken ; 
I have mistaken the discretion of judges. 

Lord Clonmel, Chief Justice. — It is impossible to go on with 
the trial this day. The rule is made with the concurrence of my 
brethren. This is an application to postpone the trial to the 10th of 
next month — a day in this term — and see upon what ground it is 
made. It has been very truly said (and I shall ever hold it as my 
opinion, and have done so for twenty years ; the first time I took it 
up was upon consideration with Chief Justice Paterson, when the 
question was considered by a variety of persons in the case of the 
White-boys) that it never was of course, and it ought not to be of 
course to postpone a trial on the part of a prosecutor, and one reason 
was this, if the prosecutor's witnesses die, what they have said is 
not lost, having given examinations before ; if the prisoner's wit- 
nesses die, he is undone ; and therefore it is not to be considered as 
a matter of course ; but the rule in those cases must be governed by 
circumstances. See what the circumstances here are : — The trial 
was first put off, not as against the prisoner, but to accommodate 
him : — at that time, Cockayne, who has sworn material informations, 
attended ; the Solicitor for the crown swears more, that he believes 
Cockayne to be a material witness ; he attended as such ; he resides 
in another country ; he came over, and entered into a recognizance, 
in consequence of the informations he had given. In Michaelmas 
Term, the trial was postponed upon application of the prisoner ; — 
upon what ground ? — that he wanted a material witness — that cir- 
cumstances prevented his having his evidence — that he was not pre- 
pared. Now, there is an affidavit made, stating circumstances — 

what circumstances ? That Cockayne, and Mounsey, two witnesses, 
to prove their sincerity of intention in coming to attend the trial, set 
out from London, and are at Holyhead ; and though the certificate 


of the surgeon might be stronger, if made upon oath, yet from the 
letter sworn by the crown Solicitor to be genuine, the attendance of 
the witnesses is expected, if the trial be postponed to the latter 
end of the term ; therefore to hurry on a trial, so serious to the 
prisoner, and the public, could have the appearance of levity. If 
the prisoner be not guilty, he will have an opportunity of clearing 
himself fully ; if he be guilty, we should not defeat justice ; where 
the crown was ready twice to prosecute, we ought now to postpone 
it Let the trial be postponed to the 10th of February. 

Mr. Ponsonby, for the prisoner. — If the trial be postponed, the 
prisoner wishes it may be postponed to the next term. A material 
witness, who attends for him, is an attorney of the courts at West- 
minster, and he cannot stay here during the whole term. 

Lord Clonmel, Chief Justice. — I think we must yield to the 
prisoner's application. There is no assurance given to us, positively, 
that on the 10th of next month there will be a trial, or that the 
crown can be ready, nor can the circumstances justify such assertion, 
the absence of the witness being occasioned by sickness. Then it 
comes to this, the crown is not ready, and it is not stated positively 
when the prosecutor will be ready. A witness for the prisoner says 
that it is indispensably necessary for him to attend at Westminster, 
and that an absence from the court there during an entire term, will 
be at the hazard of ruin to himself and his clients. — What is to be 
done ? It comes to a question of convenience, which is a serious one 
to individuals, but we cannot balance the expence. We must post- 
pone the trial until next term. 

The trial was accordingly postponed to the second day of Easter 
Term, and the prisoner was remanded to Newgate* 


Thursday, April 23d, 1796 


Right Hon. the Earl of Clonmel, Chief- Justice, 

♦Hon. Mr. Justice Downes, 

Hon. Mr. Justice Chamberlains. 


Mr. Frankjland, and 
Mr. Trench. 

Mr. Attorney-General, 
Mr. Prime- Serjeant, 
Mr. Solicitor-General, 

Agent — Thomas Kemmis, Esq. Crown Solicitor, 

counsel assigned to the prisoner. 
Mr. Curran, and Mr. Ponsonby. 


Mr. Burton, and 
Mr. Sampson. 

Mr. B. Guinness, 
Mr. M'Nally, 
Mr. Emmett, 

Agent — Edward Crookshank Eeane, Esq. 

The prisoner being put to the bar, 

Clerk of the Crown. — William Jackson, are you ready for your 

Mr. Jackson. — Yes. 

The Sheriff of the city of Dublin was then ordered to return his 
pannel, which he did, and it being called over, fifty-one attended. 

Clerk of the Crown. — William Jackson, those good men whom 
you have last heard called, and whom you now see in the box, are to 
be sworn upon the trial of your life. If you have any cause of chal- 
lenge to them or either of them, you must challenge them as they 
come to the book, and before they are sworn, otherwise you will be 
too late : you may challenge twenty peremptorily, and as many more 
as you can show cause for. Prisoner and prosecutor look to your 

Sir Francis Hutchinson, Bart. — Challenged peremptorily by the 

John Claudius Beresford, Esq. — Challenged peremptorily by the 

John Exshaw, Alderman. — Sworn. 

Frederick Trench, Esq. — Challenged peremptorily by the prisoner. 

John Pentland, merchant. — Sworn. 

Richard Cranfield, merchant. — Sworn. 

William Humfrey, merchant. — Sworn. 

* Hon. Mr. Justice Boyd, was prevented from attending by indisposition. 


Robert Ashworth, Esq. — Challenged peremptorily by the prisoner. 

Thomas Kinsley, merchant — Challenged peremptorily by the 

George Cowen, merchant. — Objected to by the prisoner, as having 
expressed an opinion upon the subject of the trial. 

Lord Clonmel. — Establish your challenge. 

Mr. Cukhan. — There is no intention of taking any captious objec- 
tion ; but if this gentleman has declared any sentiment upon the 
subject of the trial 

Mr. Co wen. — I have not expressed any opinion upon the subject 
of the trial, nor do I know any thing of it. 

He was then sworn without any further objection. 

Samuel Middleton, merchant. — Challenged peremptorily by the 

Stuckey Simon, Esq. — Sworn. 

Robert Walker, merchant. — Challenged peremptorily by the 

John Oldham, merchant. — Objected to by the Crown, but the 
objection being withdrawn, he was sworn. 

James Donovan, merchant. — Sworn. 

Alexander Clarke, merchant. — Put by on the part of the Crown. 

David Weir, merchant. — Challenged peremptorily by the prisoner. 

John Ward, the elder, merchant. — Sworn. 

Mark Bloxham, merchant — Challenged peremptorily by the 

John Murray, merchant. — Ditto. 

John Minchin, merchant — Ditto. 

William Castles Hollister, merchant — Put by on the part of the 

John Campbell, merchant — Challenged peremptorily by the 

Alan Foster, merchant — Sworn. 

John Crosthwaite, merchant — Challenged peremptorily by the 

John Smith, merchant — Sworn. 

William Edmondston, merchant — Put by on the part of the Crown. 

Benjamin Simpson, merchant — Challenged peremptorily by the 

James Davis, merchant — Ditto. 

Charles Henry Sirr, Esq. — Ditto. 

Thomas White, merchant — Put by on the part of the Crown. 

Hugh Cochran, merchant — Challenged peremptorily by the prisoner. 

Lewis Hodgson, merchant — Sworn. 


John Exshaw, John Oldham, 

John Pentland, James Donavan, 

Richard Cranfield, John Ward, the elder, 
William Humfrey, Alan Foster, 
George Cowen, John Smith, 

Stuckey Simon, Lewis Hodgson, 

The prisoner was then given in charge to the jury by the Clerk of 

the Crown, who read the whole indictment 


Mr. Trench opened the pleadings. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — My Lords, and gentlemen of the jury. 
In this case the Rev. William Jackson, the prisoner at the bar, a clergy- 
man of the church of Ireland, and a native of this kingdom, stands 
charged with high treason. He is charged with two species of that 
crime ; one, the compassing and imagining of the death of the Sang ; 
the other, that of adhering to the King's enemies, namely, to the 
persons executing the powers of government in France, with whom 
the King was at war. The court will inform you, gentlemen of the 
jury, that this indictment is grounded on the stat. of 25 Ed. 3. by 
which to imagine, compass, and design the death of the King is 
declared to be high treason. In this single instance, a crime intended, 
though not committed, is made by our law punishable with death ; on 
account of the interest which the subjects have in the life of their 
chief magistrate the King, to compass his death is guarded in this 
peculiar way. The peace and happiness of society depend on the 
preservation of his life. But at the same time that the law has thus 
wisely guarded the person of the King from violence, it has taken 
care that those who shall be charged with this crime, shall not be 
easily or lightly found guilty of it. The law has therefore made it 
necessary that the criminal intention shall be manifested by an overt 
act, an act openly done and plainly proved, by which the intention 
of the party to commit that horrid crime shall be made clear and 
manifest. On this species of treason I am also to observe to you, 
that to constitute it, it is not necessary to shew that the party accused 
had an intention actually to put the King to death, or that that was 
the immediate object. The compassing of the King's death does not 
import that the person charged intended to put the King to death ; 
but if he intended to commit any act leading directly or in its con- 
sequences to the death of the King, it is settled law that such is to be 
considered as a compassing of his death. As for instance, to conspire 
to dethrone the King ; — for as history and experience shew, to dethrone 
the King leads to his death. So, a conspiring or design to imprison the 
King. The distance between the prison of a King and his grave is 
small indeed. Therefore to support the charge of the first species of 
treason, viz. compassing the death of the King, fourteen overt acts 
are stated in the indictment. If any one of those be proved, and it 
be such as to show an intention of compassing the King's death, you 
will find the prisoner guilty of that charge. I will not take up your 
time and that of the Court in enumerating particularly all the several 
overt acts. I will however mention those that appear to me most 
important. It is charged that the prisoner consulted with several 
other persons to induce the governing powers in France to invade 
this kingdom for the purpose of dethroning the King; the consultation 
of the prisoner with others on the means of effecting such a purpose 
is an act whence you may collect the preconceived intention of 
compassing the death of the King ; another act charged is, that the 
prisoner procured a statement of the situation of Ireland to be drawn 
up and put into the post office to be sent to France to the ruling 
powers there, to induce them to invade this kingdom, and thereby 
dethrone the King. Another act charged is, that the prisoner with 
divers others endeavoured to persuade a person named to go to France, 


and give intelligence to the ruling powers there, to induce them to 
invade Ireland, in order to dethrone the King and overturn his 
government. Another overt act laid in the indictment, is his endea- 
vouring to persuade another person to go with the same view to 
France, It is likewise laid as an overt act, that he came into this 
kingdom for the purpose of exciting a rebellion to dethrone the King. 
Other overt acts are laid in sending several letters to different persons 
to induce France to invade this kingdom. Now if, as I said before, 
any one of those facts be proved, the intention of procuring an 
invasion will be established, whence it follows by a necessary induction 
of law that the prisoner is guilty of the crime of compassing the 
King's death. 

The other species of treason charged against the prisoner at the 
bar is that of adhering to the King's enemies. The nature of this 
species is fully and clearly expressed in the very terms of "adhering 
to the King's enemies." But overt acts must be laid of that also, and 
in the indictment the same fourteen overt acts are laid as applicable 
to support this charge as are laid to support the former. It needs no 
argument to satisfy you, gentlemen of the jury, that if a man endea- 
vours to persuade the King's enemies to invade his dominions, and 
sends intelligence to them for the purpose of furthering such an 
attempt, that such a man adheres to the enemies of the King. — Such 
are the crimes charged against the prisoner at the bar. Whether he 
be guilty of both or either of them, it will be for you to determine. 
You are now about to discharge a sacred and an awful duty. You 
have on the one hand to discharge your duty to your King and to 
your country. You are to take care that if the party be really guilty, 
he be found guilty, to the end that men may be deterred from com- 
mitting crimes of the last magnitude — crimes tending to destroy the 
peace and security of society — to wrest from us all that can make 
life valuable. — On the other hand you have a duty not less sacred, 
that of protecting the innocent. However horrid the crime be in its 
nature, you should not permit yourselves to be hurried away by your 
feelings or your passions lightly to find the accused guilty. The 
more dreadful the crime, the more circumspect and deliberate 
ought the jury to be. These observations, I am sure, are not neces- 
sary to be made to the jury to which I have the honour of addressing 
myself. I make them rather as a discharge of my public duty, than 
as feeling them necessary for your instruction. 

Having thus stated, as simply and clearly as I am capable, the 
nature of the crime, it now becomes my province to lay before you 
the facts which I am instructed will appear in evidence before you. 
In doing this it will be my duty to state these facts with the utmost 
plainness, without giving them any colour whatsoever to induce you 
to lean against the prisoner. I state the facts merely that you may 
more clearly and readily comprehend the evidence as it will be offered 
to you. The case itself is plain and simple. It is not a species of 
treason which is to be collected from doubtful facts or doubtful evi- 
dence, or to be collected by inference from a multiplicity of compli- 
cated circumstances, but rests on very simple evidence indeed. 

The prisoner at the bar is a native of this country. He had early 
in life gone to reside in London, where he continued for a number of 


years, but sometime since, the exact period I am not informed of, he 
went to reside in France. He was there for a considerable time after 
the Revolution took place. In order that you may understand the 
meaning of some papers that will be laid in evidence before you, it 
will be necessary to state the connections and circumstances of several 
persons, whose names will frequently occur in the course of the trial 
In the years 1793 and 1794 there was resident in Paris a gentleman 
of the name of John Holdford Stone, by birth an Englishman, and 
engaged in trade in the city of Paris. There was connected with him, 
whether as assistant or partner I do not exactly know, another gen- 
tleman named Benjamin Beresford, who is married to the sister of 
Archibald Hamilton Rowan, Esq., formerly of this country* J. EL 
Stone has a brother named William, who in 1793, and in the begin- 
ning of 1794 was resident in London, and sometimes at a small villa 
called Oldford, in the neighbourhood of London. He is in the coal 
trade, and is, or was at the time of which I am speaking, in partner- 
ship in a company whose firm is Lawrence and Co., resident in 
Rutland Place, near Biackfriars Bridge, London. Towards the end 
of 1793, or beginning of 1794, the prisoner was sent from Paris by 
the then ruling powers, to London, for the purpose of learning the 
state of the kingdom of Great Britain, and the disposition of its inha- 
bitants, and how far it would be practicable to invade that country 
with success ; and further, if he should not find a probability of 
success in the designs entertained of invading that country, he should 
pass into Ireland on the like mission. He accordingly set out from 
Paris, accredited by John H. Stone to his brother William Stone in 
London, who had been by letter previously informed of the intention 
of sending this gentleman into Great Britain. He was also supplied 
with some letters ; we cannot take upon us to say how many, or if 
more than two, but of two we are possessed — one directed to Mr. 
Home Tooke, the other to a Doctor Crawford, of this kingdom. Mr. 
Jackson arrived in London in January or February, 1794, having 
passed through Hamburgh, and landed at HulL It appears, that 
immediately on his arrival he waited on Mr. William Stone, by whom 
he was kindly received, and with whom he had a confidential inter- 
course. While he remained in London he endeavoured to procure as 
accurate a State of England as he could, I mean with respect to the 
disposition of the people to aid the French if they should make an 
invasion, and to receive from them the embrace of fraternity. Mr. 
Jackson found means to procure a state of that country in the respect 
I mentioned, to be drawn for his information, as appears by a person 
of some consideration, and the information which he received, I 
believe and trust, was well founded. He learned that the people of 
England were not willing to receive the French, and that if they 
should come, they would find ninety-nine in one hundred zea- 
lous to rise in arms against them. During his stay in London Mr. 
Jackson carried on his correspondence with France through Mr. W 
Stone. On his arrival in London he renewed an acquaintance which 
he formerly had with Mr. John Cockayne, an attorney of eminence 
residing in Lyon's Inn ; — he procured this gentleman to direct several 
letters for him to foreign countries, saying, that having contracted 
debts during his former residence in England, he did not wish his 


hand- writing should be seen, least it might be discovered that he was 
in England. Mr. Cockayne, without knowing the nature of those 
letters, did direct them. There is every reason to apprehend that 
those letters contained a communication of his transactions in discharge 
of that treasonable duty on which he had been sent. Not finding that 
he was likely to succeed in Great Britain, he was desirous to make 
an experiment in this his native country. During the time of his 
stay in London he passed by the name of Jackson, his own proper 
name, assuming however the character of an American merchant. 
He communicated to Mr. William Stone his intention of coming to 
Ireland, and desired to have a correspondence with him, and that he 
Mr. Stone should transmit his foreign letters. With this view he 
furnished Stone with a paper which will be proved to be in his own 
hand-writing, explaining the manner in which he would have such 
foreign letters transmitted to his foreign correspondents. This paper 
will deserve your particular attention, because it will serve clearly to 
connect many of the circumstances that will be proved, and to confirm 
and support the other evidence that will be offered. [Here Mr. 
Attorney-General read the paper of directions.] At the time that 
this paper was delivered, the prisoner informed William Stone that he 
should write to him not by his own name, but by that of Thomas 
Popkins. While this proceeding was going forward, the treasonable 
object and view of the prisoner was darkly intimated to Mr. Cockayne. 
He felt, as I believe every gentleman, every man of common sense 
must have felt in the like circumstances. It immediately occurred to 
him that the letters which he had directed were treasonable, that they 
had passed through the Post-office, and were exposed to detection. He 
stood astonished and appalled at his situation. There was apparent 
evidence of treason against himself. Added to his feelings for his own 
personal safety, he felt the danger the state was exposed to. He deter- 
mined to prevent the danger impending on himself and his country, 
and he disclosed to government the whole of what he knew or 
suspected. Government, thus aware of the dangerous practices that 
were on foot, did, as was their duty, determine to counteract the 
schemes of Mr. Jackson, and to bring to justice if possible, the 
perpetrators of such horrid crimes. Mr. Cockayne at the desire of 
Mr. Pitt consented to accompany Jackson in order to render abortive 
his wicked purposes. Towards the end of March, Mr. Jackson set 
out for Dublin, accompanied by Mr. Cockayne. They arrived the 1st 
April 1794 : on their arrival they lodged at a house called Hyde's 
Coffee-house, at the corner of Palace-row, and it appears that Mr. 
Jackson in a day or two after his arrival made an acquaintance or 
renewed an old one with a gentleman of the name of Leonard M'Nally. 
Mr. M'Nally merely no doubt from that hospitality in which Irishmen 
are never deficient, invites the two strangers to dine with him, and as 
a man of manners always does, he selected an agreeable company to 
meet them. Mr. Simon Butler and a Mr. Lewins were among others 
present at this entertainment ; the conversation was naturally turned, 
by the gentleman who had come on this kind mission, to the state of 
the country. Much talk there was about the discontented state of 
tiiis kingdom, anxiously did he inquire how far the people would be 
willing to rise, if there should be an invasion by the French. I only 


2 10 TRIAL OF 

mean to say that such was the turn of the conversation introduced fay 
Mr. Jackson. I mean not to charge any man who has not an oppor- 
tunity of defending himself. Opinions on the subject were delivered 
by the host and his guests. Mr. Butler held that though there were 
some discontents in various parts of the country, yet that the gene- 
rality of the people having property and education were loyal and had 
a considerable influence over their tenantry, and that the invaders 
would be foiled in the attempt. Other gentlemen entertained different 
opinions. During this conversation something was said of Mr. A. H. 
Rowan, then in prison in Newgate for publishing a seditious libel. 
Mr. Jackson imagining that Mr. Rowan could give him full information 
on the subject he had so much at heart, expressed a desire to be 
introduced to his acquaintance. Some difficulty there was both with 
the friends of Mr. Rowan and others, as to the authority of Mr. 
Jackson to treat at all, on the part of the French government. Mr. 
Lewins however undertook to introduce the prisoner to Mr. Rowan ; 
and in order to accredit this embassador from France, Jackson 
delivered the letters which he brought from Paris to Mr. Tooke and 
Dr. Crawford, for he had not thought proper to deliver Tooke's 
letter ; why that was not done I am not informed. These letters 
were not sealed, and the prisoner knew the contents of them. That 
he did know their contents is demonstrable ; if he had not read them 
he would not have sent them to Mr. Rowan to establish his credit 
with that gentleman. A meeting on the credit of these letters is had 
between Mr. Rowan and the prisoner. What passed at their first 
interview I am not able to inform you ; but at it he received the 
letters from Mr. Rowan which he had sent by Lewins, and about 
which he had expressed great uneasiness during the time they remained 
out of his custody. Another meeting appears to have been appointed 
between them. Mr. Jackson was invited to breakfast at Mr. Rowan's 
apartment in Newgate to meet a third person — Mr. Cockayne accom- 
panied Mr. Jackson — this was about the 26th of April. Jackson was 
to meet a third person there to concert the means of sending an able 
and trusty negotiator to the French government, by whom, as he 
expressed it in one of his letters, more could be done in a short time 
than by a thousand letters. The meeting took place, the persons 
present were Jackson, Rowan, Cockayne, and Mr. Theobald Wolfe 
Tone. The object of the meeting was to prevail on Tone to go to 
France with the view of communicating to the Ruling Powers, the 
willingness of this country to rise and overset the government, and 
to point out the best means of effecting a descent on this kingdom. 
It was thought that nothing could more effectually tend to attain 
the object that these conspirators had in view, than to send a man 
of sense and ability accredited by a person, in their estimation of 
such high consequence as Mr. Rowan, to Paris, there to converse 
with the French Ministry, and persuade them of the practicability of 
their scheme. At this meeting a paper was produced and read, and 
which will be laid before you, drawn up at the desire of Jackson, 
and importing to be a statement of the disposition of the people of Ire- 
land ; then it was proposed to send Mr. Tone to France— Jackson 
endeavoured to persuade him to go — Tone made several objections ; he 
had a wife and three children — a debt was due to him, part of a 



reward for something which he had done for the Catholics — this debt 
would be lost if he should go to France. Rowan encouraged him to 
go, assuring him his wife and children should be attended to and 
protected. Tone hesitated — he expressed apprehensions of the recep- 
tion he should meet at Paris, and of the reward he might receive-* 
he even had fears that he might never return to Ireland — Jackson 
encourages him, anxiously endeavours to remove his fears and excite 
his hopes; something he hinted that the Catholic debt would be 
made good ; he assured the hesitating Tone that the French were a 
noble and generous people, that he might depend on being treated 
with the utmost liberality, at the same time admitting that he had 
not authority to offer a specific sum** Mr. Tone at this time was 
under the necessity of going to the assises of Drogheda, and after his 
return he at a second meeting of the same persons altogether declined 
to undertake the journey to Paris. Another able negociator must be 
provided. A Dr. Reynolds presented himself to the mind of Rowan 
as a fit person, and a meeting is had at which the Doctor is present. 
The Doctor is applied to. He is at first willing to go, but on a little 
reflection he thinks the expedition rather hazardous. He recollects 
that he understands not one word of the French language nor of the 
manners of those countries through which he was to pass. However 
the eloquence of Mr. Rowan was exerted, Reynolds yields to his per- 
suasion, the route was settled, but again the Doctor reflects, hesitates 
and at length determines not to hazard the undertaking. While these 
consultations were going forward, Jackson was employed in making 
eommunications to his correspondents and principals in France, of 
what he was doing here and how far he was likely to attain the 
object of his wishes. I have' stated that he arrived the 1st April 
Previous to that, government here being informed by the British 
Minister of his object, the Irish government did, as they ought, take 
every possible precaution to come to a knowledge of all the proceed- 
ings of this emissary, and with this view, being apprised through Mr. 
Cockayne of the addresses of Jackson's foreign correspondents abroad, 
gave orders to the post-office, as by law they are warranted, and by 
their duty bound to do, to open letters of so dangerous a tendency. 
Mr. Jackson soon after his arrival in Dublin, on the 5th April wrote 

* No prosecutor could be more humane than Arthur Wolfe, nor less anxious to 
•fate anything too strongly against accused parties, and therefore the statement 
in this place with regard to Tone most be considered an unintentional error. It 
certainly is not quite correct. Tone thus mentions the circumstance—" 1 then 
took an opportunity (on the difficulty of a proper person being found to go to 
France being stated, and it being mentioned that no one was in all respects so fit 
as myself) to recapitulate pretty nearly what I said in all the preceding conver- 
sations on the general state of the country ; and I then added, that with regard 
to my going to France, I was a man of no fortune ; that my sole dependence was 
on my profession ; that I had a wife and three children, whom I dearly loved, 
solely depending on me for support ; that I could not go and leave them totally 
mBororided for, and trusting to the mercy of Providence for existence; and 
that consequently with regard to me, the going to France was a thing totally 
hnpossible. They all agreed that what I said was reasonable, but there was no 
offer of money or pecuniary assistance of any kind held out to induce me to change 
my determination ; a circumstance I mention merely because I understand it Is 
bettered that some such was made." — Tone's Life, 1 vol., p. 119. American 

212 trial or 

to Mr. W. Stone of Oldford, announcing to him his arrival in Ireland, 
apologizing for not writing sooner, telling him he found many kind 
friends, and desiring him not to make any use of the addresses he had 
left him, the price and nature of the articles being (as the letter 
expresses it) entirely changed. You will perceive that terms are 
made use of strangely and enigmatically, expressions of trade are 
employed where no trade was, but in truth significant of the political 
objects on which Jackson was employed. Here you will see by the 
context what the meaning -of the writer was. About this time a new 
revolution had taken place in Paris. Danton had been assassinated 
by the opposite party, and this is the change in the articles to which 
the letter alludes ; and this letter is signed Thomas Popkins. To 
this tetter Stone wrote an answer dated 11th April in which he 
acknowledges the receipt of it. Jackson wrote a letter dated 24th 
April to Mr. Beresford at Paris, and procured Cockayne to copy it. 
This also is signed Thomas Popkins. In it he says, "you are re- 
quested to see Madget directly, and inform him that this evening the 
opinions of two eminent counsel are sent to him ;* throughout making 
use of legal terms, as if he was conducting some law suit. Madget, 
in this letter,, means the marine minister of France. The estate 
mentioned in the letter is the kingdom of Ireland. There is a Noia 
Bene at the end of the letter which is nothing to the purpose only as 
it serves to add further authenticity to the letter. Another letter 
will be laid before you which sets out with the date of 21st April 
but which was not closed till 24th April. It is to William Stone and 
in the prisoner's hand- writing, but the superscription is of Cockayne's 
writing. He says " I am glad the patterns (meaning letters formerly 
sent to this Stone) have reached the persons." The outrider men- 
tioned: in this letter means the post-office. In the former letter the 
opinion to be sent was that of counsel, in a matter of law, in this 
the opinion is that of a manufacturer in a matter of trade, and yet 
both letters speak of the same opinion, and the opinion means the 
state of Ireland which I have before mentioned. Mr. Nicholas in 
this letter is used to denote the war minister of France, and in some 
of the letters perhaps signifies France itself. It is plain that the 
matter which the statement mentioned in this letter was to contain 
was of the same nature with the paper drawn up in England, for it 
refers to it and this was neither a law case nor an opinion on trade, 
but a political discussion. You will perceive how little able this man 
was, as I believe any man would be, to carry on a subterfuge of this 
kind with success. He confounds the terms he uses, he mixes and 
confuses characters and things, and he shews manifestly that he was 
anything but what he pretended to be. In this he says that he should 
set out for Cork in a few days. Upon the same day Jackson pnt into 
the post-office two copies of that State of Ireland called in his letter 
a state of the case, and which has been four times read to you from 
the record. I am not at present precisely informed, nor is it indeed 
material in whose writing those copies are. One of these copies he 
directed to go by Hamburgh, the other by Amsterdam. One of them 
is in a cover marked with a large cross on the outside exactly corres- 
ponding with the instructions given to William Stone, put, as I am 
instructed, on the paper by the prisoner himself. This is enclosed in 



cover directed to Monsieur Daudebuscaille, at Amsterdam, 
and then another cover encloses all, directed to Messrs. Texier, 
Angely and Massac, at Amsterdam. Ail the superscriptions are by 
Cockayne, and on the inside of the first cover are written these words, 
"remember me to Laignelot and family/' also in Cockayne's hand- 
writing bnt dictated to him, as the superscriptions were, by the 
prisoner. I shall not take up your time in reading this paper. It is 
sufficient for me to state that it is a manifest disclosure to the enemy 
of the supposed state of this country, inviting them to land on its 
coasts and pointing out what was fit and necessary to be done by 
them to effect that design. This evidence applies to both charges, 
that of compassing the King's death and that of adhering to his 
enemies, and is an overt act of each treason. The other copy of this 
paper is enclosed in a cover marked without with a large cross* and 
mat is enclosed in a cover to Monsieur Chapeaurouge, at Hamburgh, 
and in the first cover are written " remember me to Laignelot and all 
friends." The cover is directed and these words written by Cockayne, 
by Jackson's direction and in his presence. These superscriptions 
you will observe, and it demands attention, accord precisely with the 
addresses left with William Stone by Jackson when he left London. 
The papers were put into the post-office, and there they were by 
order of government intercepted. I have omitted to mention that 
William Stone signed his letters to Jackson, W. Enots, which is 
Stone reversed, a circumstance of much weight. Do innocent mer- 
chants engaged in an ordinary mercantile transaction use assumed 
names? Why, if no treason in the correspondence, does Jackson 
write himself Popkins and Stone reverse his name ? Mr. Jackson on 
28th of April was arrested by a warrant from my Lord Chief- Justice 
on a charge of high treason. He intended on that day to have set 
out for Cork, as he had mentioned in one of his letters to Mr. Stone. 
The objects of his journey to Cork were first to examine the state of 
the country, and next to procure some person to supply provisions 
for the ruling powers in France. He was in bed at the moment of his 
arrest, and by the bed side stood a table on which were several papers. 
These papers were seized, and they will be laid before you, for we 
wish you to be possessed of every circumstance that can elucidate the 
subject ; among these was found the letter from Stone to Jackson and 
also the letter from J. H. Stone in Paris to Tooke, speaking in the 
strongest terms of the intention of the French to invade this country. 
There was also found a note from Rowan respecting the disappoint- 
ment he received from the non-attendance of. a third person at one 
of their meetings, and a note from Tone excusing himself from his 
attending. I shall not go more minutely into the nature of the 
evidence at present It will appear to you gentlemen of the Jury, 
that the prisoner came from France to procure intelligence to be 
conveyed to the enemy, and that he did while here use his utmost 
exertions to invite and excite the enemy to invade this country. 
When you shall weigh and put together the circumstances that will 
he proved, and compare the whole scope of the evidence, you cannot 
he at a loss to determine what the object of this man's mission was, 
and perhaps the dark nature of some of these papers will carry a 
demonstration more striking than plainer terms. Thus gentlemen, I 


have stated the great outlines of this case, having no other view than 
to render the evidence as it shall he offered, more intelligible. I have 
studiously avoided all colouring and everything that can inflame the 
passions. I have in acting thus, I hope discharged the duty I owe at 
once to my King, my country and the prisoner at the bar, and I now 
leave the matter on the whole of the evidence to you, being perfectly 
convinced, gentlemen, that it is your inclination as it is your duty 
to investigate the charge with the most minute attention, and that 
you will bring in a verdict founded solely on the evidence, at once 
remembering the duty that is due to the society in which we live, 
and to the prisoner upon whose life you are shortly to pronounce that 

The Attorney-General sat down, but rose to say that he ought 
to have mentioned that Stone of Oldford was arrested in London soon 
after the arrest of Jackson here, and that Jackson's letter of the 5th 
of April, and the paper of addresses was found among Stone's papers 
in his house at Oldford.* 

John Cockayne, examined by the Attorney-General. 

Q. Do you know the prisoner at the bar? A. Yes. 

Q. How long have you known him? A. Ten years and upwards. 

Q. Do you know where has his residence been for the last four 
years? A. I believe in France. 

Q. Your belief is not evidence ; did you ever hear him say where 
he had resided ? A. I have heard him say that he had resided in 
France latterly. I have missed him from England two or three years. 

Lord Clonmel. — Can you ascertain from information given by the 
prisoner, how long he had lived in France ? A. I cannot say ; I 
know he went from England upon the Duchess of Kingston's 

Mr. Attorney-General. — When did he return last to England? 
A. I cannot tell the very day he returned to England, but it was 
some time in January or February, 1794. 

Q. Did he tell you after his return where he had been ? A. He 
said he had been in France. 

Q. Did he say, whence he had come ? A. From France. 

Q. How long did he remain in England on that occasion ? A. I 
should think about two months, rather under than over. 

Q. In what part of England do you reside ? A. I reside in Lyon's 

Q. Your profession ? A. An attorney. 

Q. In what part of England did the prisoner reside ? A. He had 
lodgings at the Buffaloe Tavern, Bloomsbury-square. 

Q. Had you any intercourse with him during that time? A. Con- 

Q. Had you any reason to know upon what business or object he 
was engaged during the time of his remaining in London, or what 
brought him from France ? A. I cannot particularly mark any period 
to give a precise answer to that question ; if you point out any period 
of time, I may answer you. 

* Stone was tried for high treason and acquitted 



Q. Did he employ you to do any business for him ? A. I did 

something for him in his private, his mercantile affairs. 

Q. (By the Court.) What do you mean by his private affairs ? 
A. I mean money matters; in the capacity of a friend and an 

Mr. Attorney-General. — When did he leave London ? A. The 
latter-end of March, 1794, 1 think. 

Q. Who accompanied him ? A. I did. 

Q. How did you travel ? A. We came together, I think in the 

Q. Whither were you going ? A. We were destined for Dublin. 

Q. Now Sir, what was your inducement to accompany the pri- 
soner? A. My inducement was to counteract any scheme or plan 
that he had in agitation, as I thought that he had when I left Eng- 
land, of providing France with necessaries and articles, which were 
prohibited from being exported thither from this country. 

Q. What reason had you to suppose he had such a scheme ? A. 
Conversations which I had with him in England. 

Q. (By the Court.) What do you mean by prohibited articles? 
A I do not know that I can specify what articles are or are not 
prohibited, not having looked into the act, but I understand it to mean 

Q. How do you understand that? A. By conversations I had 
with the prisoner. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — Will you mention what those conver- 
sations were that you have spoken of? A. I should find great 
difficulty in answering you as to any one conversation ; I cannot 
answer you with precision as to any one of them. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — Mention the general purport of them. 

Mr. Curran. — With great deference, I conceive that evidence of 
this kind is not admissible — for a witness to state to the Court what 
he supposes to be the general purport of a number of conversations, 
not one of which he declares he can state with any kind of precision. 
I conceive that if a man is to be affected by anything that he says, 
the Court and the Jury are to know what he says ; but this kind of 
inference is not legal evidence, nor can any man be affected by a 
general conclusion formed by a witness from conversations which the 
witness does not pretend to state. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — This is new doctrine to me — the wit- 
ness is going to say what was the general purport of the prisoner's 
design — (to the witness) you say you came from London accompanying 
Mr. Jackson, to prevent, if you could, the intention you apprehended 
he had of sending prohibited articles to France — did you collect that 
intention from conversations you had with him ? A. I did. 

Mr. Curran. — Well, since this evidence is pressed, I must call on 
the Court to decide. 

Lord Clonmel. — He has not yet gone too far ; I think he says 
that he understood it from conversations with the prisoner, none of 
which he can particularly state : this is evidence, but it goes to his 

Attorney-General. — When did Mr. Jackson arrive in Dublin ? 
A I believe on the 2d or 3d of April. 


Q. Where did you lodge ? A. In Dame-street, at Hyde's coffee- 

Q. "Were you invited to dinner anywhere shortly after your arrival ? 
A. Yes, to Counsellor M'Nauys. 

Q. Do you remember who the company were there ? A. A Mr. 
Simon Butler, and / think a Mr. Lewins. 

Q. Now are you sure whether Mr. Lewins was there or not? 
A. I am not certain whether he dined, but I am sure he was there in 
the course of the day — I think. 

Q. Did you see Lewins there that day ? A. If it was not that day 
I saw him there, I did not see him there at all ; but / think I saw 
him there. 

Lord Clonmeia. — Recollect yourself — Did you see a man of the 
name of Lewins there or not ? Come to that point. A. / think I 
did, but I cannot positively swear ; but I saw him several times. 

Q. Is Lewins a man of any profession ? A. I do not know. 

Attorney-General. — Who else was there ? A. I do not recol- 
lect any others. 

Q. What, did you go alone ? A. No ; Mr. Jackson was there. 

Q. Did he make any particular enquiries that day ; what was the 
scope of the conversation ? A. The scope of the conversation was 
general ; the common conversation at dinner ; it entered on politics 
at last. 

Q. Do you recollect the particular conversation ? A. It is very 
hard for me to answer with the precision with which I ought on oath 
the particular conversations which took place among a set of men 
who were, perhaps, drinking. I have not a very retentive memory. 

Q. You say it turned on politics — what politics ? A. The general 
politics of the day, and also the politics relative to the Irish nation. 

Q. Do you recollect what passed relative to the Irish nation ? or 
any part of that conversation as coming from the prisoner ? A I 
should have great difficulty in stating the precise words that Mr. 
Jackson said, or Mr. M'Nally said, or Mr. Lewins said, or Mr Butler 
said, for I cannot say what one said and what another ; but if it is 
put to me to the best of my recollection what Mr. Jackson said, I will 

Mr. Ponsonby. — I object to that evidence ; the distinction that I 
make is this ; the witness cannot say that to the best of his recollection 
Mr. Jackson said so and so ; he must swear that he did substantially 
say so, and then he may speak to the best of his recollection what the 
words were. 

Attorney-General. — Can you recollect the substance and pur- 
port of what Jackson said at that meeting ? A. I don't think that I 
can answer that question. 

Q. Do you say that you can't tell the purport of what Mr. Jackson 
said at that meeting ? A. I cannot say precisely. 

Q. Can you recollect the purport and substance of what Jackson 
said ? A. Not of what Mr. Jackson in particular said : I might 
recollect the general purport of the conversation ; but I shall then 
be in the opinion of the Court how far it affects the prisoner ; for I 
cannot swear what Mr. M'Nally said or what Mr. Lewins said or what 
Mr. Butler said, they were all engaged in the conversation. 



Q, You said the conversation touched on the politics of the Irish 
nation ; what politics ? 

Mr. Pow 80NBT. — I beg the witness may understand from the Court 
that he must speak positively from his present recollection of the 
subject of the conversation of the company, and that the prisoner 
joined in the substance of such conversation, because otherwise it was 
not the conversation of the prisoner. 

Lord Cloiwbi* — I feel it as you state it — either he must say what 
it was substantially, or that there was a conversation substantially to 
this amount. 

Attorney-General* — You have said Jackson joined in the 
conversation — in what respect did the conversation relate to Irish 
politics ? A. I believe it went to the dissatisfaction of some part of 
the kingdom with some measures. I am not of this country, my Lords, 
and know but little of its politics-— I have never troubled myself 
about them, till this business brought me among them — I am afraid 
I shall be found but a bad repeater of them. 

Q. What dissatisfactions? — recollect what further passed. A. It 

went to the dissatisfaction of some part of the kingdom, and (a 

pause). I cannot recollect at this moment — my spirits are so agitated 
at this moment that I cannot recollect — I am very sorry to detain the 
Court — I have really lost every idea of where I was. 

Q. Were any other politics talked of? A. I don't believe there 
were any. 

Q. Do you recollect any further conversation about politics ? 

Mr. Curran. — I object to that question ; the witness has already 
said there was no further conversation on the subject — the witness is 
produced on the part of the Crown ; the answer to the question is 
simple ; either he recollects or he does not ; but it is not usual to 
assist his recollection by summing up what had gone before. 

Lord Clonmei* — I see not the difference on what side he was 
produced ; if you rely on the summing up of what he said before, 
stand upon that. 

Attorney-Generai* — Do you recollect any conversation between 
Mr. Jackson and Mr. Lewins at any time? A. At any time? 

Q. Where and when ? A. At Hyde's coffee-house. 

Q, In what chamber ? A. I believe in that where I slept. 

Q. Can you recollect what that conversation was ? A. That was 
at to Mr. Iiewins asking Mr. Jackson for some written documents or 
authorities, that he might produce them to Mr. Rowan, in order that 
Mr. Rowan might with confidence talk to Mr. Jackson. 

Q, Who is the Mr. Rowan you speak of? A Mr. Hamilton 
Rowan, I think they called him. 

Q. Where was he at that time ? A. In Newgate. 

Q. Can you tell whether Mr. Lewins and Mr. Jackson had any 
conversation respecting Mr. Rowan before ? A. Cannot say to that. 

Q. Did you not say that Mr. Lewins came to ask Jackson had he 
any written document that he might produce to Rowan to convince 
him he might talk with confidence ? A. I did. 

Q. What answer did Jackson give to that request ? A. I believe 
he gave him some paper. - 


Q. Did you see whether he gave any ? A. I cannot swear that I 
saw him deliver the papers into his hand. 

Q. Did Jackson tell you whether he had delivered them ? A. He 
did tell me that he had delivered some papers to Lewins, and that he 
wished he had them again. 

Q. Did he tell you why he wished to have them again ? A. He 
said he would not trust them with Lewins if he had them back. 

Q. Did he tell you what those papers were ? A. He did not. 

Q. Do you know whether he ever got them back ? A. I believe 
he did. 

Q. Did he ever tell you whether he did or not ? A. Not directly 
in those words. 

Q. In what words then ? A. I can only say I believe he did get 
them back again, but I cannot swear that Mr. Jackson said " Mr. 
Lewins has given me these papers." I have every reason to believe 
that he did get them back. 

Q. Can you recollect how soon after your arrival this conversation 
was ? A. Can you tell me the date of our arrival ? 

Mr. Attorney-General. — I am not to tell you anything. 

Witness. — We arrived on the second or third, and I should suppose 
it was four or five days after, but I can't speak positive. 

Q. Had Jackson any interview with Rowan ? A. He had, 

Q. When had he the first? A. Do you ask me in point of 

Mr. Attorney-General. — If you recollect how soon after the 
conversation with Lewins ? 

A. I believe a day or two after the conversation with Lewins ? 

Q. You believe! A. I may have hurried myself in saying 

believe ; I know that he had an interview. 

Q. Were you present ? A. Yes. 

Q. Had he none previous to that that you were present at ? A. I 
believe he "had ; if that be not evidence, I cannot say more. 

Q. Did Jackson say he had an interview ? A. He told me he had 
seen Mr. Rowan. 

Q. That was before you were present ? A. It was. 

Q. And either a day or two after Lewins called for the papers ? 
A. It was. 

Q. Did Jackson tell you what passed between him and Rowan at 
that interview, or any part of it ? A. He told me he was much 
satisfied with Mr. Rowan ; that his manners were very much those 
of a gentleman. I recollect nothing more. 

Q. Did Jackson tell you whether he was to see Rowan again or 
not ? A. He said he was. 

Q. Did he tell you when that meeting was to be, and what the 
object of it was ? A. I don't think he said what it was — yes — he 
said it was to breakfast 

Q. He did not tell you the object ? A. No, I think not. 

Q. Did he tell you who was to be there ? A. No. 

Q. Did he go ? A. Yes, he went there certainly. 

Q. How do you know ? A. I went with him. 

Q. How soon was this after the first meeting? A. Within the 
compass of three or four days, or a week, certainly. 



Q. Was there any other person with Rowan when you were there ? 
A. I really believe— I can't speak positive, and Fll tell yon why — 
there were two or three meetings, and I can't tell at which — there 
was a relative of Mr. Rowan, I think his father or father-in-law. 

Q. Did that relative continue daring the whole time you were 
there ? A. No ; he went away. 

Q. Do you remember whether there was anybody else? A. I 
think Mr. Tone was there, I cannot positively swear. 

Q. Do you remember what was the subject of the conversation 
there ? A. It was on politics. 

Q. What politics ? A. Irish affairs. 

Q. In what respect ? A. A great deal was said about the United 
Irishmen of which Mr. Rowan was a member ; some pamphlets were 
read, and some other matters talked of between them — and there was a 
conversation about the dissatisfaction of the people in some part of 
the kingdom. 

Q. Were you present at a meeting with Jackson and Rowan when 
Tone was present ? A. I was. 

Q. Did yon know, previous to going, who was to be there ? A. I 
now begin to recollect, but I am not positively certain, Jackson said 
Tone was to be there. 

Q, Did you meet any person there ? A. I met Mr. Tone there. 

Lord Clonmkl. — Was that the first meeting or the second ? A. I 
am not sure ; but at some meeting I met Mr. Tone there. 

Q. Can you tell for what purpose Jackson went to meet Tone there, 
or for what purpose he was there ? A Mr. Jackson did not tell me 
for what purpose he was to be there. 

Q. Was there any other person present but Tone, Rowan, Jackson 
and you? A. No. 

Q. Can you tell what was the purport of the conversation ? A. I 
shall be very little able to complete an answer to that question, 
because I did not particularly wish to make myself master of that 
conversation in toto. 

Q. Be pleased to inform the court what you do recollect of that 
conversation. A. There was some paper produced, it was in the 
hands of Tone and it was read by him and Rowan. 

Lord Clonmel. — Read aloud? A. -Not so loud that I could 
understand it. 

Mr. Attorney-General — Did you see that paper again at any 
time ? A. I had it once. 

Q. Would you know it again ? A. I made no mark on it. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — I did not ask you that. 

Witness. — If I were to see it I would make you an answer whether 
I would know it or not ; before that I cannot give an answer. 

Q. Tou read it ? A. No ; never. 

Q. What conversation passed at the meeting where Tone was ? I 
don't ask you the particular words. A. The conversation among the 
three was the forming a plan, or talking of a plan, to send somebody 
to France. 

Q. Was any particular person mentioned to go on that errand ? 
A. Mr. Tone was asked to go. 

Lord Clonmel. — What — to go ? A. To go. 


Mr. Attorney-General. — For what purpose was he to go ? A. 
As I understood 

Q. Did you understand from the conversation for what purpose 
Tone was to go to France ? 

Mr. Curran. — It is impossible to sustain the question that is put, 
in law — did he understand — it is not a legal question, and for one 
reason as good as a thousand, that it would be impossible to indict a 
witness for perjury upon such testimony. 

The Court. — You need not go further into the objection. (To 
the witness.) Did you hear the conversation ? A. Tea. 

Q. Did you understand it ? A. Yes, in part. 

Q. How do you mean in part ? A. They were at one corner of 
the room, and I in another with a book in my hand, and I did not 
hear enough to state what they said. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — Do you know for what purpose Tone 
was to go to France ? A. I cannot say, but from my own conjecture. 

Q. Did Jackson ever tell you for what purpose Tone was to go? 
A. Never directly so; but from what I understood and from 
general conversations, I am well satisfied what the purpose was in 
my own mind — 

Q. (The Court.) What did he say ? A. I cannot repeat it. 

Q. What was the substantial import ? A. The substantial import 
was that he was to go to France with a paper as I understand — those 
papers I never saw. 

Q. Did Mr. Tone agree to go ? A. At one time he said he would, 
at another time he receded ; he gave his reasons for agreeing to go 
and for receding. 

Mr. Curran. — Was Mr. Jackson present? A. At the reasons 
that he first gave, Mr. Jackson was not present. 

Mr. Attorney- General. — Where was it ? A. At Newgate. 

Q. Had you a meeting with Tone and Rowan when Jackson was 
not present ? A. Yes. 

Q. Did you ever hear Tone give any reasons for going or not 
going when Jackson was present ? A, Yes Sir. 

Q. Where was that ? A. At Newgate. 

Q. Who was present ? A. Mr. Rowan, Mr. Tone and I. 

Q. Was Jackson present ? A. I think he was. [This evidence 
was objected to.] 

Q. Were you at Rowan's lodgings at Newgate at any other 
meeting than those you have mentioned ? A. How many have I 
mentioned ? 

Q. Did you ever see any other person besides Tone at Rowan's 
lodgings in Newgate ? A. Yes, I saw Dr. Reynolds. 

Q. Was Tone present at either of them ? A. Once he was. 

Q. How often ? A. Once if not twice. 

Q. Did you see him there more than once ? A. I think twice— 
'tis a year ago, and I have had that on my mind since, that has 
shattered my memory very much. 

Q. Was Jackson present at either of those meetings that Reynolds 
was at ? A. I don't know how to swear positively — I think he wa& 

Q. Did you go alone to the meeting ? A. I can't tell — I was 
alone more than once at Mr. Rowan's. 


Q. I ask yon did you go alone to the meeting at which Dr. 
Reynolds was present ? A. If I could have answered that question, 
I would have saved you the trouble of repeating it. 

Q. What conversation passed between Rowan, Reynolds and Tone 
when you saw them together ? 

[Counsel for the prisoner objected to this question, Jackson not 
being proved to have been present.] 

Q. Had you any conversation with Jackson respecting Dr. 
Reynolds ? A. I had. 

Q, What was the substance of it ? A. The substance of it was, 
as to his being a proper or an improper person to go to France. 

Q^ (By the Court.) What did Jackson say on that subject ? A. 
Mr. Jackson said he did not so much approve of him as of Mr. 

Mr. Attobwet-Gehebal. — Did he tell you why ? A. I cannot 
answer that he told me why — the reason why, I thought, I am con- 

Q. Did Jackson tell you on what errand Reynolds was to have 
gone ? A. The same of Tone's. 
Q. What was that ? A. To carry some paper to France. 
Q. (By the Court.) How do you know ? A. Because the paper, 
whatever it was, was drawn in Newgate while I was there. 

Q. Do you know this from your own knowledge, or did Jackson 
tell you ? A. I cannot say that he told me so in hcec verba. 

Q, Can you tell substantially what you heard from the prisoner ? 
A. In substance, it was, that he was to go to France with some 
instructions to the French. It is very difficult to repeat conversations 
with accuracy ; I have heard this in many alternate conversations 
with Jackson, with Tone, with Reynolds and with Rowan. 

Mr. Curban. — My client is to be affected by no conversation that 
is not sworn to have been in his presence ; the witness says there 
were some conversations at which he was not present, and therefore 
it is necessary the witness should swear positively that Jackson was 
present, when any thing respecting those instructions passed. 

WrrwEse. — Originally Tone was to have gone, but he left Dublin 
abruptly without saying whether he would or would not go, and then 
Mr. Rowan applied to Dr. Reynolds, I believe. If I am not point 
blank in my answers, you will let me tell why I am not so, for I would 
not leave the Court under the impression that I would wilfully con- 
ceal any thing. 

Q, Then Jackson told you that Reynolds was to go to France and 
take a paper ; did you learn from him in conversation what that paper 
was? A. So many conversations we have had, that it draws me into 
a maze which of them I shall think of. I was many weeks in com- 
pany with the prisoner, and the subject was talked of repeatedly. I 
cannot tell the precise words. 

Q. You mistake me, I asked you of conversations in general 
between you and Jackson. Did he ever tell you for what purpose 
Reynolds was to be sent to France? A. To take some written 
paper with him, to the French Convention I believe ; I cannot say 
Q. Did Jackson tell you at any time or in any conversation for 


what purpose Reynolds was to go ? A. I don't know how to answer, 
there are so many answers to be given this question. 

Lord Clonmel. — Did you draw any inference from these conver- 
sations for what purpose he was to be sent ? 

Mr. Curran. — I beg your lordship's pardon ; but the witness will 
conceive that he has a right to give his own opinion in answer to that 

Lord Clonmel. — Did you understand unequivocally from those 
conversations what he was to be sent for — did Jackson ever tell you 
for what purpose, or to whom Reynolds or Tone were to go ? A. 
They were to go to France. I cannot tell in what words to put my 
answer — I cannot say to whom they were to go ; if I was to say one 
person I might be wrong, for it was my own understanding of it/ I 
understood from general conversations constantly had, that they were 
to go with some papers to France. I cannot repeat Jackson's words, 
my own words will be my understanding of his words. 

Attorney-General. — The witness said he had already heard so 
in alternate conversations with Jackson, Tone, &c. 

Witness. — I adhere to that still. 

Lord Clonmel. — " With instructions for the French" — for what 
purpose ? A. I shall there catch up what I said before — I under- 
stood they were to have written instructions for the French, but what 
they were I don't know. 

Attorney-General. — To what part of France was the mes- 
senger to go ? A. I understood they were to go to Paris. 

Q. From whom did you understand that ? A. From them alL 

Q. Did either Tone or Reynolds receive any encouragement to go? 
A. Yes. 

Q, Either Tone or Reynolds in your presence ? A* Yea. 

Q. By whom ? A. By the prisoner and Rowan. 

Q. What were the encouragements that Jackson held out to Tone? 
A. That he would find the French a generous and, I think, a brave 
people — a generous people. 

Q. Was there any thing in the conversation that led Jackson to 
say that? A. What brought that speech from Jackson I presume, 
was owing to the difficulties that Tone raised to his going. 

Q. What were they ? A. A wife and family. 

Q. Were there any others mentioned ? A. The loss of oppor- 
tunities which might very likely arise from his remaining in this 

Q. Did Jackson give Reynolds encouragement to go, or use any 
persuasions ? A. Not much — he did not like him ; he would rather 
have had Tone. 

Q. Do you know the hand-writing of the prisoner ? A. Yes. 

Q. Do you know whether he had correspondence while here with 
persons out of this kingdom? A. I do not know what letters he 

Mr. Attorney-General. — I did not ask you—-did he write 
letters ? A. I believe — I know — I remember his writing one. 

Q. Was it in his own name, or under another signature ? A. I 
cannot tell. 

[Here the witness proved Mr. Jackson's hand- writing to the super- 


scription of a letter, dated 5th of April, 1794, and directed to Mr. 
Stone. He also proved a second paper, (the paper of addresses 
marked No. 2,) and a third in his (the witness's) hand-writing, dated 
the 24th of April, 1794, and directed to Benjamin Beresford.] 

Q. On what occasion did you write that letter, or by whose direc- 
tions? A. By the prisoner's directions. 
Q. Was it your own composition or a copy. A. It was a copy. 

Q. From what ? (a long pause.) A. From a letter in the 

hand-writing of the prisoner. 
Q. Who gave you that letter? A. The prisoner. 
Q. Did you take a just copy ? A. I believe so. 
Q. Whose hand- writing is the superscription ? A. Mine. 
Q. What was done with it when you copied it ? A. It was con- 
?eyed to the Post-office. 
Q. Who sealed it? A. The seal is so much defaced that I cannot say. 
Q. At what time of the day did you get it to copy ? A. I believe 
in the morning. 

Q. And did you sit down immediately to copy it, or did you make 
any other use of it ? A. I don't know whether I sent another copy of it. 
Q. That is not the question — did you shew it to any person ? 
A If I shewed it to any body it was to Mr. Sackville Hamilton. 
Q. Did you shew it to him ? A. I really believe so. 
Q. Did you shew him any letter ? A. I think I carried the original 
of that very letter to him — I verily believe I did : If I should swear 
positively, and that it turns out otherwise, you will say that I have 
said wrong. 

Q. Then can you recollect that you carried any letter to Mr. 
Hamilton ? A. I do recollect. 
Q. Are you sure of that ? A. I am. 

Q. Did you carry any other letter ? A. No, and for that reason 
I think this was the letter. 

Q* (By the Court.) In whose hand-writing was the letter you 
carried Mr. Hamilton ? A. In the prisoner's. 
Q. Did you get the letter back ? A. Yes. 

Q. Did he deliver it immediately, or did you go again for it ? 
A I went again for it. 

Q. What became of the original afterwards ? A. The prisoner 
got it 

Q. Do you know what Mr. Hamilton did with the letter you 
shewed him ? A. He took a press copy of it — I think I was in the 
room when he took it. 
Q. Did you see him take a press copy of any letter ? A. I did. 
Q. Of what ? A. Of the original of this letter. 
Q. Now did you bring the original of that letter to any body 
before you returned it to the prisoner ? A. I carried it back from 
Mr. Hamilton to the prisoner, and did not shew it to any person in 
the mean time. 

Q. Who put the copy into the Post-office ? A. I don't know — it 
was written in the presence of the prisoner, and sent to the Post- 

Q. (By the Court) By whose directions ? A. By the directions 
of the prisoner. 


[A letter marked B. No. 4, dated 21st and 24th April, 1794, 


Q. In whose hand-writing is the superscription ? A. My own. 

Q. By whose directions did you write it ? A. By the prisoner's. 

Q. Was it put into the Post-office ? A. I do not know, and it is 
necessary I should explain ; there were several letters sent by the 
servants of the coffee-house, and some were put in by myself, and I 
cannot tell which were which. 

Q. Did you put in any letters by the prisoner's directions ? A 
All that I put in were by his directions, but I cannot identify them. 

[A letter marked C. No. 5, produced.] 

Q. Whose hand-writing is the direction ? A. Mine. 

Q. By whose directions did you superscribe that? A. By the 

Q. Look on that which is inside, was the cover sealed up when you 
got it, or did you see the paper with the cross on it which is enclosed ? 
A. I never saw it before ; do not understand me to say that I knew 
that enclosure was within the cover I directed. 

Q. Look at that second cover — whose hand- writing is that ? A. My 

[A letter marked D. No. 6, produced.] 

Witness. — The superscription of the first outer cover is my hand- 

Q. By whose directions ? A. By the prisoner's. 

Q. Look on the second cover — whose is the superscription? 
A. Mine. 

Q. Whose is the writing within ? — " Remember me to Laignelot 
and family ?" A. Mine. 

Q. By whose directions did you write them? A. By the pri- 

Q. Then the first must have been open when you wrote them ? 
A. It was. 

Q. Were these done both on the same day or not ? A. I know I 
did direct four or five on the same day, but I am not certain whether 
I wrote these or not. 

Q. Did the prisoner ever prevent you from going to the post-office 
with letters ? A. No. 

[The paper marked C. No 5, was produced again, and the writing 
in the inside cover the witness acknowledged to be his hand- writing.] 

Q. Did you see any letter directed to Home Tooke ? A. I did. 

[A letter directed to Home Tooke produced.] 

Q. Did you read it ? A. I did. 

Q. Would you know it again ? A. I would — [here the letter was 
produced to the witness,] I believe that is the same. 

Mr. Ponsonby. — Are you sure it is the same ? A. It is very hard 
to swear it is the same, but I verily believe it is the same. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Gubkan. 

Q. You have known the prisoner many years ? A. Yes. 
Q. He is a clergyman ? A. Yes. 



Q. An Englishman ? A. I don't know ; I believe he is a native 
of Ireland. I have always thought him an Irishman. 

Q. Yon don't recollect whether Lewins was present at the first 
meeting 70a were at ? A. I am not certain now. 

Q* Yon have known Mr. M'Nally when he practised at the English 
bar? A. Yes. 

Qp And so had Mr. Jackson ? Yes. 

Q. He was counsel at Lord Hood's election, and you knew him 
there, did you not ? A. I believe I saw him on the hustings there, 
three or four times. 

Q. It was in consequence of this acquaintance that he asked you to 
dinner ? A- I do not know what his motive was. 

Q. You had business to transact here ? A. I had several things 
to transact here. 

Q. And you applied to Mr. M'Nally ? A. Yes ; he has done 
some business for me. 

Q. Must you not think that your recollection is very untenacious 
as to what happened a year ago, when yeu cannot recollect whether 
Lewins was at that meeting? A. I cannot say positively, but I 
verily believe he was. 

Q. You said your memory had been somewhat shattered ? A. It 
has been so, by this transaction. 

Q. You have not stated how ? A. It grieves my mind more than 
I can describe, to see that gentleman in that situation : It has made 
much impression on me of late. 

Q. Had you any feelings about yourself? A. I ought to have had 
them ; I have had a great deal of uneasiness. 

Q. As to personal danger ? A. Yes — I more than once thought 
my own person in danger.* 

Q. Do you consider it out of danger now ? A. I think so. 

Q. But are you sure, or is it only a general notion — what makes 
you think so ? A. I do not see any one to offend me. 

Q. To offend you ! Is there no particular fact on which you build 
a good notion of your security ? A. No — I do not see any danger in 
the country now ; it is not in that state I expected ; it is quite quiet 
now, and therefore I was not afraid of coming. 

Q. Now, did you conceive that the danger I alluded to was from 
any disturbance in the country ? A. I did suppose bo. 

Q. Then you did not think that I alluded to any personal matter 
of your own ? A. No. 

Q. Did nothing pass in your mind to lead you to think that I 
glanced at it ? A. No — I feel no such thing. 

Q. Do you not know at this moment that you were considered an 
accomplice in this business ? A. I considered myself so, more than 
the officers of the crown did. 

Q. Do you not come forward to-day from a pure love of justice ? 
A I come forward with very great reluctance. I am under a very 
heavy recognizance, which I cannot possibly get over ; and it grieves 
me to appear against a man with .whom I have been so intimate. 

Q. Did you always freely declare the evidence you would give on 
this subject when you were interrogated ? A. I do not know with 

• The Defenders intended to have murdered Cockayne. See Trial of Leary, post. 



whom I have communicated in this particular way. Whenever any 
one asked me a question about it, I gave such answer as at the time 
occurred to me to be right. 

Q. What ! were you never examined before ? A. Yes. 

Q. Where? A. At the Castle. 

Q. Did you state your evidence there freely and voluntarily? 
A. Not so voluntarily, very likely, as might have been wished. I 
gave the evidence, and signed the examinations which Lord Clonmel 
prepared from my words. 

Q. Did you do that voluntarily ? A. There was no force used ; I 
wished not to do it 

Q. Was there no menace — no threat made use of? A. I believe 
I hesitated about signing it as much as I could; I believe Lord 
Clonmel said I ought to recollect that I was in their power, as to 
committing me, if I refused to sign it. 

Lord Clonmel. — Recollect yourself. 

Mr. Curban. — Do— recollect yourself — and state what was said to 
you touching the power of committing you. A. I hesitated in signing 
the examination at first, which after I had been sworn by the Privy 
Counsel, Lord Clonmel was so good as to modify once or twice, in 
the way I proposed : still I hesitated, on the principle that I was 
apprehensive I was an accomplice — I was pressed again and again — 
I evaded signing it, and I believe Lord Clonmel's patience was in 
some degree wearied by my delay, and he said, I think, " don't you 
know that you are in our power." 

Q. What — did you conceive the danger that you were threatened 
with was, that you might be charged yourself with the crime ? A. I 
thought so, and I think the Attorney- General did express his opinion 
that I was not chargeable with it. 

Q. You signed the examination there ? A. I did not. 

Q. Where then ? A. At Lord Clonmel's house. 

Lord Clonmel. — Did you sign your examination the day you gave 
it in ? A. No. 

Q. How long had you to consider of it before it was signed ? A. I 
had two or three days to consider it. 

Lord Clonmel. — Another thing is of public consequence to be 
known. Recollect yourself. When you talked of being in anybody's 
power, was it for not signing the examination, or being threatened as 
an accomplice if you did not sign ? A. For not signing the examina- 
tion — and I have much thanks to express to your lordship for your 
humanity in that business. 

Mr. Curban. — You say you followed Jackson to Ireland in order 
to counteract any schemes that he might have relative to sending 
provisions ? A. I did ; I thought it my duty as a good subject, as 
having taken the oaths of allegiance three times to the king ; and 
that was my first reason for applying to government in England on 
the subject. 

Q. So your sole reason for undertaking this business was your 
having taken the oaths of allegiance ? A. That was my sole reason 
for my first application to government in England. 

Q. To whom did you apply ? A. To Mr. Pitt 

Q. Jackson was your client at that time ? A. And had been so 
for many years. 


Q. And your old friend ? A. And my old friend. 

Q. Added to the duty of your allegiance, was there not some idea 
of benefit to yourself? A. None. 

Q. No expectation ? A. I did not expect anything, nor do I expect 

Q. There was no promise made of any ? A. None by Mr. Pitt or 
any person, except what I shall now state : what passed between me 
and Mr. Pitt I feel it my duty to state if I am at liberty. I applied 
to Mr. Pitt by letter, and acquainted him that there was in England 
this Mr. Jackson, who had come here, I believed 

Q. Sir, I was asking you about a reward. A. There was none 
bat this — when I stated the circumstances to Mr. Pitt, I mentioned 
likewise that Mr. Jackson owed me a considerable sum of money on 
the balance of an account : that if I interfered and should be a sufferer 
thereby, I should think it hard as to that sum, which Jackson owed 

(By the Court) To what amount was he your debtor? A. About 

Q. You mentioned that in your letter to Mr. Pitt ? A. No ; in a 

Q. The amount I mean. A. Yes ; Mr. Pitt, I believe, made 
answer — " You must not be a loser." 

Mr. Curran. — What was the sum you told Mr. Pitt that he owed 
you? A. About £300. 

Q. By virtue of your oath was that the sum you mentioned ? A. I 
think so ; the sum due to me was between £250 and £300. 

Q. Did yon never tell anybody that you named £600 to Mr. Pitt 
as the debt ? A. Never to my knowledge. 

Q. So you then came over to Ireland with Jackson ? A. Yes. 

Q. You did not understand that you were to be paid this debt, in 
case you survived Jackson as a loyal subject ? A. By no means as 
yon put it. 

Q. Yet that was a very likely way to put it out of danger. A. I 
did not think Mr. Jackson would ever be in the situation he is, or 
that I would ever be brought here as an evidence. 

Q. You are a practising Attorney in England ? A. Yes. 

Q* You expected no reward for your interfering in this matter ? 
A I expected to be paid my expenses in coming over here, as I 
would be paid in any other matter whatever. 

Q. So your evidence is, that you thought your old friend and client 
was going to do wrong, and you left your ordinary business in England 
to come here, to be a spy upon him for the ordinary expenses of any 
other witness ? A. Yes, Sir. 

Q, Did you ever obtain a pardon ? A. Yes. 

Q. Of what? A. Of all treasons and misprisions of treasons 
committed in Ireland. 

Q. Did you ever get a pardon for any treasons committed in 
England? A. No. 

Q. Were you originally a professional man ? A. I never followed 
any other business. 

Q. Did your pardon go to any conviction for perjury ? A. No ; I 
believe not — I forgot, or I would have put it in my pocket 


Q. Were you ever tried for perjury ? A. I was. 

Q. Perjury in what ? A. In an affidavit that I swore. 

(By the Court.) — When were you tried? A- In the year 1793. 

Q. Now, by virtue of the oath you have taken, did you ever tell 
anybody that that affidavit was in fact false ? A. I must apply to 
the Court, whether I ought to answer that question ? 

Q. The question is this, you have* been indicted and tried for 
perjury — now I ask, by virtue of your oath, did you confess since the 
trial, that you were guilty of that offence. 

(By the Court.)— You were acquitted? A. Yes, and I hope 

Mr. Cubkan. — Is that your name ? — (shews a paper.) A. Yes. 

Q. You say you hope you were acquitted honourably ? A. I do 
say so, and I hope I was. 

Q. Now, I ask you, by virtue of your oath did you mention to any 
person that that affidavit was in fact false ? A. I do not know how 
to answer that (a laugh) it is not laughing matter — I do not know 
how to answer it ! 

Q. Why do you not know ? A. I have been acquitted on that 
affidavit, and as honourably as any man could be. 

Q. Did you say it was false ? A. My Lords, I think it will be 
right for me to state some of the particulars of that indictment. 

Mr. Cubkan^— Let him answer my question. 

Lord Clonmei* — I think he has a right to open the way for his 
answer by any explanations — Take your course, Sir. 

Witness. — The indictment for perjury against me was, because I 
swore that I attended at the Prothonotary's office in the Temple from 
one hour to another, it was in an action brought by an attorney of the 
name of Fletcher against a client of mine ; he could not support the 
action, and there was a summons to tax the costs ; there was some 
dispute as to my charge for attendance. I swore — I had attended at 
the Prothonotary's office from six till seven on some business ; the 
business was done in fact on the next day that my attendance was 
made ; and the perjury was neither wilful nor corrupt ; it was that I 
could not prove my attendance the complete hour — but the Court on 
hearing that explanation, and seeing that I could gain nothing by it, 
directed my acquittal, and the jury acquitted. There is a gentleman 
of high honour come here from England to vindicate me, and I hope 
the Court will hear him. 

Mr. Cubkan. — Do you know Mr. Nailor? A. Yes. 

Q. Did you ever tell him that the affidavit was false in fact? 
A. I have already stated to the Court how far it was not true. I 
incautiously swore that I attended an hour. I could not prove the 
attendance for the whole hour — the business being done the next day, 
as completely as if the attendance had taken place, and being no 
advantage to me, or disadvantage to anybody else, I was acquitted. 

Q. I ask you again, did you tell Nailor that the affidavit was not 
true ? A. I dare say I did, so far as I say now : I always admitted it, 
and though I might have made two fatal objections to the indictment, I 
would not suffer my counsel to take advantage of them, because I was 
resolved to be acquitted or found guilty on the merits ; there was a 
judgment stated, and they did not produce it ; Mr. Garrow, who was 




my counsel, immediately said it was fatal, and so Mr. Main waring, 
the chairman said, but I would not take advantage of it. 

Q. Had 700 ever any promise of reward from Mr. Pitt ? A. None, 
but what I mentioned. 

Q. Did jou state to any one that you had ? A. No. 

Q. Did 70a state to Mr. Nailor that you had ? A. No. 

Q. Did 70U tell Nailor that you had told Mr. Pitt your debt was 
£600? A. No, I would scorn it. 

Q. You would scorn either to come, or to stay on any pecuniajry 
motive ? A. I would — and I call this the severest day to my feelings 
that I ever saw. 

Q. As to that debt of Jackson's — did you think he was likely to 
pay U ? A. I did. 

Lord Clonmei* — Had you any quarrel with the attorney, who 
prosecuted that indictment ? A. No, he ran away a little afterwards 
with one of the witnesses. 

Mr. Cuhran. — Do you know of any of the letters you put into the 
office ? A. If you call for any one letter, I may answer you. 

Q. Some of the letters you put into the office had one or two 
envelopes ; did you know their contents ? A. No. 

Q. Nor the person to whom they were addressed ? A. No. 

Q, Did you know that there were any orders at the Post-office to 
intercept those letters ? A. I do not know, but I believe there were 
orders to intercept any letters that should be written by Jackson. 

Lord Clonmel. — How soon did you hear of that ? A. As soon 
as I came here. 

Mr. Cubran. — You knew that before you delivered any letters into 
the Post-office? A. Yes. 

Q. Did you know it before you delivered that letter marked D. ? 
A I do not know that I did deliver that letter. 

Q. Any that you did deliver, you knew would be intercepted? 
A. Yes. 

Q. And as a good subject you put them in with intention that they 
should be intercepted ? A. Yes. 

Q. Then you did not put them in with any design that they should 
go abroad at all ? A. I don't know what became of them afterwards. 

Q, But you intended they should not go abroad? A. I do not 
know how the Post-office disposed of them, I do not know that I had 
made up my mind at all — I knew they would be intercepted — I could 
not do it with that intention. 

Q. Then you did not intend that they should go abroad to the 
king's enemies ? A. Certainly no — I took care to prevent it as much 
as possible. 

Q, Nor that any encouragement should be given to the King's 
enemies ? A. Certainly not. 

Q. Nor that information should be given to the enemy? A. 
Certainly not. 

Q. Nor that war should be levied against the King in this kingdom ? 
A Certainly not. 
Q, You said that you went sometimes to Mr. Rowan by yourself? 

A I did. 
Q. Why by yourself? A. By the direction of Mr. Jackson. 


Lord Clonmel. — Did Jackson know his letters were to be inter- 
cepted ? A. No. I believe not. 

(By one of the Jury). Was your sole business in coming to Ireland 
to counteract the designs of Jackson ? A. I had some business of 
my own to transact in Ireland, but that was my sole reason in accom- 
panying Jackson. 

Juror. — How comes it then that you have given so very poor an 
account of him and of the different transactions ? A. I have given 
the best account I could. I gave government as much information 
as I could with regard to intercepting the letters, and did not expect 
to be examined as a witness. 

Sackville Hamilton. — Examined by the Prime-Serjeant. 

Q. Were you in any office under government in 1794 ? A. I was 
Under Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant for the civil department in 
the beginning of that year. I am not now in any public situation. 

Q. Do you know Mr. Cockayne? A. Yes. He brought me a 
letter of introduction from Mr. Nepean the Under Secretary in 

Q. Did he speak to you about any letters ? A. On the 25th April, 
the day after the letters were intercepted, he asked me if they had 
been intercepted. 

Q. Did he shew you any paper? A. He showed me a paper 
purporting to be an original letter. 

Q. When he gave you that paper, what did you do with it ? A. I 
took a press copy of it from a rolling-press which lay in the room. 

Q. Have you that press copy ? A. Yes. It is not legible through- 

Here Mr. Gurran objected that no part of the paper could be read, 
it not being legible throughout, which point was conceded. 

Isaac de Joncourt. — Examined by the Solicitor-General. 

Q. In what employment are you ? A. In the Post-office. 

Q. Have you access to the letters in the office ? A. I have. 

Q. What is your department there ? I am Deputy-Comptroller. 

Q. Did you ever see that paper No. 3 ? A. Yes, I found it in 
the office the night of 24th April. 

Q. What induced you to take notice of it ? A. I was ordered to 
have attention to letters of that address. 

(By the Court.) You found it in the usual place where letters are 
deposited that are intended to be conveyed ? A. I did. 

Q. Your orders were from government ? A. They were. 

Q. What were your directions ? A. To open all letters directed 
to Mr. Benjamin Beresford. I had also orders to open several others. 

Q. Did you ever see that paper No. 4 ? A. Yes. It is directed 
to Lawrence and Co. 

Q. Had you orders to open letters to that address ? A. I had. 

Q. Was there any enclosure in it ? A. There was this directed 
to Mr. Stone. I also stopped this letter (No. 5,) directed to Texier 
Angely and Massac, at Amsterdam. There is an enclosure in that 
to Monsieur Daudebuscaille and Co. No. 6, directed to Monsieur 



Chapearouge, at Hamburgh. There is a sealed enclosure in it with 
a cross on the back of it. 

Q. Where did you find these letters ? A. I found them sealed in 
the ordinary course in the same office. 

Q. Did you find them all on the same day ? A. Yes ; on the 
24th April. 

Q, What did you with them ? A. I gave them to Mr. Hamilton. 

[Hoe the Clerk of the Crown read the papers marked A. and B. 

as follows : — ] 

A Monsieur Beresford chez. Bourcard and Co. Basle, Switzerland. 

Dublin, 24th April, 1794. 
You are requested to see Mr. Madgett directly, and inform him 
that this evening two papers containing the opinion of the first counsel 
in this kingdom relative to his family lawsuit are sent off to him by 
the post. Mr. Madgett* s friend has been wholly occupied since his 
amval here in obtaining those opinions, attending different consulta- 
tions and collecting what is now sent as a real case in point. Your 
brother-in-law with whom the friend of Mr. Madgett here had fre- 
quent conferences, approves the opinions as containing the opinions 
of all good and honest lawyers on the subject. Madgett may therefore 
proceed for the recovery of his family fortune by hostile or pacific 
means as he and his friends think proper. 
I am, Sir, 

Your humble Servant, 


NJB<— - Your brother-in-law has written to your wife in order to 
find out the sex of your child. I am told that it is a very fine boy, 
the picture of his father, sound in every part except the brain. 

Messrs. Lawrence and Co. at their Coal Wharf, Rutland Place, near 

Blackfriars Bridge, London, enclosing a letter directed to Mr. 


Dublin, 21st April, 1794. 
Dsab Sib, 

Yesterday your letters were delivered to me, I am glad to find 
that the patterns I sent have reached the persons for whom they were 
intended ; as from the silence of the parties I concluded that the 
outriders had neglected the delivery of them. I do not see anything 
in the late change of fashions which alters my opinion of the stability 
of the new institution, particularly as the principal persons who 
superintend it, I never have been able to detect in the slightest 
deviation from the line of consistency. The rest have at all times 
been suspected of sinister motives and tergiversation. 

The state of manufactures in England which your friend drew out, 
and which you so obligingly gave, is very just, as far as it related to 
England ; but the principles of the people, with regard to trade, their 


opinion as to a change, to be brought about by industry and co-oper- 
ating exertion are so totally different, as to throw all comparison oat 
of the question. I am promised by a very eminent and sensible 
manufacturer a statement of the manufacturing branches here which 
will gratify you. 

I shall obey the instructions of your sister-in-law, by not writing 
to her, which does not however preclude me from requesting, that 
when you write you will remember me in the most affectionate manner 
to her and Mr. Nicholas. Let them know where I am, and that I am 
doing everything in my power to serve Mr. Nicholas, and give him 
satisfaction in bringing his affairs to the issue he wishes. His friends 
here have it in agitation to send a person, on whom his family and he 
can depend, to him with copies of such covenants and leases, as will 
shew the readiness of his sister-in-law here to come immediately to 
terms with him ; and I shall advise a junction of interest, rather than 
a tedious Chancery suit. I wish you would copy this part of my 
letter and send it to him ; a few days will decide whether the person 
goes or not ; if he should, he will go from me and the family here 
with full power to treat with Mr. Nicholas, finally settle the terms, 
and thus put an end to enmity and litigation. I am sure the medium 
of a third person is all that is wanting to bring the parties perfectly 
to accord. The sister-in-law is admirably disposed to a reconciliation. 
I hope this will be effected, as one interview is better than a thousand 
letters. If the person should go, Mr. Nicholas must receive him as 
he deserves, and treat him as he will merit. I had written the above 
during the negociation with a person to go to Mr. Nicholas. He has, 
this morning the 24th of April, decided that his private affairs will 
not permit him. I shall therefore send a statement of the family 
expectations and situation here drawn up by as eminent a pleader as 
the gentleman who composed the paper in England. 

I shall set out for Cork in a day or two, from which place yon shall 
hear from me ; and should you receive any intelligence from or 01 
our friends, I intreat you to communicate it to me under cover to 
John Cockayne, Esq., to be left at the Post-office, Cork. I wish you 
would write the first post day to your sister-in-law, and desire her to 
inform Mr. Nicholas, that to-morrow I send off two letters for him 
from his friends here, containing opinions thoroughly considered and 
well digested by the first counsel here ; as such he may shew them, 
and the family may act accordingly. As my time has been wholly 
employed in collecting them, and as they come from the first and most 
enlightened sources, let your sister-in-law desire Mr. Nicholas to look 
out for them as matters of consequence : they contain the real state 
of the case. 

I sincerely wish you happiness, and that of your family, and am 



Do not fail to communicate to Mr. Nicholas by the means of your 
sister-in-law what I have written. 

Thomas M'Lean. — Examined by Mr. Franklanp. 
Q. What is your business ? A. I am one of his Majesty's messengers. 



Q. Where do you reside ? A. In London. 

[A paper was then produced to him.] 

Q. Did you find that anywhere? A. Yes, in the possession of 
William Stone, of Oldford in Middlesex. 

Q* On what occasion? A. I was sent with Lauzun another 
messenger, to take him into custody, and we found it in a drawer in 
his room at his house in Oldford. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Ponsonbt. 

Q. Did you find that letter in Ireland ? A. No : it was found at 
Oldford in England* 

[This letter, No. 2, was then offered to be read.] 

Mr. Ponsonbt. — I object to this letter being read in evidence, 
because it was not found in the prisoner's custody ; because it was 
not found in the county in which the treason is laid in the indictment* 
But it is found in another kingdom, and therefore cannot be read 
here. In Hensey's case, I Bur.,* Lord Mansfield said, " It is certain 
that some one overt act must be proved in the county, where the in- 
dictment is laid : indeed if any one be so proved in that county, it will 
let in the proof of others in other counties." But it is not asserted nor 
can it be supported, that papers found in another kingdom can be read. 

Lord Clonmei* — We think they offer it too soon : They must 
prove their overt acts, and then read this paper by way of aggravation. 

Mr. Fkankland. — We offer this paper in evidence in order to 
confirm the other evidence we have offered, and mean to give to 
establish the overt acts. Here is a paper in the hand-writing of the 
prisoner, and it cannot be contended that papers in his hand-writing 
are not admissible. 

Lord Clokmei*— -Suppose a letter had gone to France, to which 
place it had been directed, and was found there, could it not be read 
here ? — beyond a doubt nothing is more certain than that scribere est 
agere in treason. 

Mr. Ponsonbt. — My Lords, that rule is to be taken with restric- 
tions, and never was laid down absolutely but in Algernon Sidney's 
case,f whose attainder was reversed by act of parliament ; and Judge 
Foster says, J the rule is true with proper limitations, and from his 
observations the rule does not apply in this case. 

* Howell's State Trials, vol. 19, p. 1345; and 1 Burr 647 : 3 Starkie Evidence, 
1097. Stone's Case, 6 Term Reports, 527. 

t Howell St. T. vol. 9, p. 817. The grounds of the reversal of the attainder 
in Sydney's case were these : — An illegal return of jurors ; the denial of lawful 
challenges for want of freehold ; the insufficiency of legal proof to establish the 
charge of treason ; that a paper found in Sydney's closet, supposed to be his 
hand-writing, was not proved by the testimony of any of the witnesses to have 
been written by him, &c, 2 Philbps State Trials, 111. Mr. Phillips remarks — 
" On the subject of these writings, the strong and decisive objection against their 
admissibility is that before-mentioned (which it is remarkable is not noticed in the 
act of reversal), namely, that they were net proved to be connected with any 
design, or in any manner to relate to the treasonable practices charged in the 
indictment. If they had been written by Sydney, relative to those treasonable 
practices, they might have been read in evidence against him though they had 
never been published.'* 

X Foster 196. 


Lord Clonmel. — What use do the counsel for the Crown make of 
this paper ? 

Mr. Attorney-General. — My Lords, the overt act laid is, that 
the prisoner encouraged the enemies of the King, and adhered to them, 
and that he compassed the death of the King. Then the proof to 
establish the charge is this, that two papers were sent, directed in the 
terms, and enclosed in the envelopes jour Lordships have seen. If 
we shall prove that these letters were sent to the Post-office for the 
purpose attributed to them, then the fact will be established. We 
have proved them to have been written by Cockayne under the 
directions of the prisoner ; that they were addressed to persons at 
Amsterdam and Hamburgh. In order to give further scope and 
effect to that evidence, and to prove that those letters were intended 
to be sent abroad we offer another paper in evidence to shew, that 
Jackson, having a correspondence with persons abroad, did send this 
letter to Stone in England (with whom we have proved he had also 
a correspondence) informing him of his arrival in Ireland, and stating 
in another, that the goods and wares were arrived, shewing that 
Stone was the medium through which the correspondence passed. 
We do not mean to give this letter as a substantive evidence standing 
alone by itself, but going with the others in support of the charge. 
With regard to the rule of evidence, papers in the prisoner's hand* 
writing are not to be disputed. If it were necessary that they should 
be found upon him, all the letters stopped in the Post-office, upon 
which persons have been hanged, were improperly received. The 
distinction is that if the paper be not in the party's hand-writing, it 
must be found in his possession to connect it with his intention. This 
paper is not offered as evidence of an overt act, but as evidence coming 
from the party accused, and offered to be used concurrent with other 
pieces of evidence to support the overt act, and when it shall be read, 
we shall be at liberty still further to confirm them all, and therefore 
unless some case be cited, which we are not apprized of, upon the 
argument, and principle, this evidence ought to be received and the 
paper read. 

Mr. Ponsonby. — My Lords, I submit, that this paper should not 
be read. This like every other thing offered in evidence, is legal 
evidence, or it is not ; — there is no such thing in offering evidence to 
a court, as saying, it is part of the evidence to prove the overt act, to 
go connected with others, so as to make all together legal evidence. 
But it must be legal in the first instance. If the gentlemen are to 
establish the overt act by nine pieces of evidence, every one of them 
ought to be admissible evidence in point of law, because after the 
nine are received, they are not to say, that all of them taken together 
will make legal evidence. This paper is not proved to have been 
published by the prisoner, neither was it within the kingdom of 
Ireland, much less in the county where the prisoner is indicted.* See 
what the distinction was in Lord Preston's cascf He and two others 
had procured a smack to carry them away ; their papers were seized; 
among the papers was found a scheme to lay before the King of 

* 1 East P. C. 102, 104, 125; 3 Starkie 1007, last edition, 
t 12 Howell St. Tr. 726. 


France. It was insisted that no overt act was proved, but his*taking 
boat in Middlesex ; the papers were not seized in Middlesex, and 
were therefore not sufficient to prove any overt act in that county. 

Mr. Justice Dowkes. — Lord Preston was taken in Kent ; the 
paper was found in Kent : he was tried in Middlesex, and the"overt 
act was laid there ; the Court did not stop evidence arising in Kent 
from being given in Middlesex. He took boat in Middlesex, and 
that was connected with the transaction in Kent. 

Mr. Ponsonby. — I submit that the Court did establish the point I 
contend for, because it was from the circumstance of his taking boat 
in Middlesex that made it competent to the Crown to produce evidence 
of papers found in Kent. The Court excluded everything done in 
Kent, and said, that his having the papers upon him in Middlesex, 
and taking boat there, justified the admission of the evidence. 

Mr. Solicitor-General. — There is nothing in the report to shew 
that the papers were in his possession, when he took boat in Middlesex. 

Lord Clonmel. — See what the evidence is. Assimilate~it to the 
King v. Hensey. This is either introductory evidence, or corrobora- 
tive. Introductory of what ? — to evidence of one of the overt acts 
laid in the indictment — applicable either to the charge of adhering to 
the King's enemies, or compassing the King's death. How then does 
it come before the Court ? The overt act is, that this man gave 
information by letter to the King's enemies to invade this country ; 
they prove a letter from him to a correspondent in a masked language, 
as they say; the prisoner may explain it, and shew that a real 
transaction subsisted. This letter is to shew an intercourse and 
correspondence between Stone and the prisoner at the bar. A letter 
has been proved in the same sort of language, all in the hand-writing 
of the prisoner, with certain marks and cyphers, explanatory of what 
was the intercourse between them. This is introductory of evidence 
bearing upon the charge in the indictment. Can it be denied to be 
the hand- writing of the prisoner, or that it was directed by him. I 
know not what the contents of it are. But it is a paper in the hand- 
writing of the prisoner, and found in the possession of his correspondent, 
to whom he wrote. 

Mr. Ponsonby. — I am sensible of the observations of the Court. 
But my Lords, this is a mere unpublished paper, unconnected with 
any circumstance to give it authenticity. No act appears to have 
been done, and with regard to papers written, they are only to go in 
evidence where the rule can apply of scribere est agere, where anything 
has been done to carry it into effect. But here it is found in the 
possession of a third person, and there is no evidence to show how he 
came by it. 

Mr. Justice Downes. — I do not see a necessity for adding a word 
to what my Lord Clonmel has said. This evidence is introductory 
and it is also corroborative of what Cockayne said. I do not feel the 
objection as having any weight, that it is out of the county, or in 
another kingdom. It is not to prove the overt act itself that this 
letter is offered : — the overt act must be proved in the county ; but 
that being done, evidence in other counties may be admitted, otherwise 
in Lord Preston's case they would have excluded everything but 
what could have been proved in Middlesex. 


Mr. Justice Chamberlain. — I do not consider the evidence now 
offered, as evidence of an overt act, but explanatory of that, which 
proves the overt act Two papers have been proved, and this is 
produced to shew, quo animo, the former were written. They are 
marked with a cross and other emblems, and this letter is offered to 
shew the prisoner's intention in sending those others. To say, that 
letters or papers found in one place to explain the intention of the act 
done in another, could not be admitted, would be dangerous. Lord 
Preston's case is a strong one, because there the evidence found in 
Kent was admitted to shew quo animo he took boat in Middlesex. 
This paper is in the hand-writing of the prisoner, and the only 
question is whether it may not explain the intention of his conduct in 

[Here was read the paper, No. 2.] 

A Cross f 
To Monsieur Daudebuscaille. 
(The outward cover.) 
To Messrs. Texier, Angely et Massac, 

a' Amsterdam. 
(The inside cover.) 

A Cross f 
(Outward cover.) 

To Mr. Chapeaurouge, 



(To each is added a recommendation to forward the inclosed.) 
Edward Lauzun. — Examined by Mr. Frankland. 

Q. Do you hold any employment? A. I am one of his Majesty's 

Q. Did you ever see that paper ? — (shewing him a letter, No. 1.) 
A. Yes, I found it in the apartment of William Stone, at Oldford. 

[Here read the paper No. 1.] 
To Mr. William Stone, London. 

Dublin, 5th April, 1794. 
Dear Sir, 
Owing to a variety of incidents, which I will explain when I have 
the pleasure of seeing you, I have been prevented writing until the 
present moment. Some very excellent friends, to whom I owe most 
singular obligations, being apprized of my arrival, have endeavoured 
to render me service — and, were their power equal to their wishes, I 
am confident I should experience the benefit of their good intentions: 
Accepting, as I do, the will for the act, they have a claim on my 

I must request you not to make use of any of the addresses I left 
you, the price and nature of the article being entirely changed. 
You will have the goodness to enclose your letter or letters to me, 



under a cover thus directed— John Cockayne, Esq., Hyde's Coffee- 
house, Dame-street, Dublin. 

Pray write immediately. 

I request, my dear Sir, that you will dedicate an instant, on the 
return of the post, in acknowledging the receipt of this letter ; and if 
you have any letters from the family at Shields which regard their 
affairs in this country, you cannot too soon enclose them to me, as the 
assizes at Cork are about to commence. 

In the course of a very few days, I will give you some information 
respecting the bills which you commissioned me to present. 

I hope your lady enjoys better health, and with very sincere wishes 
for her and your happiness, I request you to believe me your real 


Oliver Carlton. — Examined by the Attorney-General. 
Q. Do you know the prisoner ? A. Yes. I assisted in arresting 
him on a warrant from Lord Clonmel for high treason. 

Q. Where did you arrest him ? A. At Hyde's coffee-house. 

Q. In what part of the house ? A. Up two pair of stairs, back, in 

Q. At what time ? A. Ten in the morning, 28th April. 

Q. Did you find any papers in the room? A. I found several 
papers on a table and others in a trunk in the room where he slept. 

[The papers marked E. F. G. L. N. O. shewn to the witness.] 

Q. Do you know these papers ? A. Yes. I found these on Mr. 
Jackson's table. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Ponsonbt. 

Q. Was the door shut ? A. It was shut, but not locked. 

Mr. Frankxand. — We will prove a letter written by Mr. Stone, 
addressed to Mr. Thomas Popkins. 

Mr. Curran. — I object to this evidence ; my doubt is as to reading 
a letter, merely because it was found in the chamber where Mr. 
Jackson was in bed ; it is not in the hand-writing of Mr. Jackson. 

Mr. Prime-Serjeant* — This letter was found on Mr. Jackson's 
table, and it is proved that he was the Mr. Thomas Popkins directed to. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — Besides, the letter to which this was 
an answer, was found on Stone. 

The Court. — You need not trouble yourself: it is good evidence.* 

Q. (By a Juror.) Was there another bed in the room ? 

Witness- — No. 

Mr. Jackson. — Sir, there was another bed in the room. 

Witness. — If there was, I did not observe it 

Mr. Attorney-General. — Did the prisoner at the bar say any 
thing about those papers? A. He was very much agitated — he 
jumped out of bed and ran about the room in great confusion — he 
said he did not care about any but one particular paper ; and he asked 
me what right I had to take his papers ; I told him my authority ; 
that I had a Judge's warrant 

*Fwt 196; Hensey's case, 1 Burr. 644; Tooke's cose, East P. C. 119; 
8tone's case, 6 T. R. 527. 


Mr. Jackson. — I beg leave to ask this question. In the first 
place, the witness is wrong as to the fact of the bed. Now, let me 
ask you, did I, or did I not, when you were taking the papers, volun- 
tarily say, there is the key of my portmanteau— take it? A. You 

Mr. Jackson. — You regarded two closets, and said you would 
have them open ? A. Yes. 

Mr. Jackson — And I opened them for you ? A. Yes. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — Were any of the papers you have 

now seen, in that trunk that you have mentioned ? A. No the 

papers there, were of no significance, I think 

Mr. Curran. — Do you not believe that that paper which Mr. 
Jackson expressed such anxiety about was a family paper, and entirely 
of a private nature ? A. I do not know. 

Mr. Jackson. — Mr. Attorney knows that there was such a paper 
among those that came under his inspection. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — I do not know — there were some 
papers that related to private affairs, and I believe they have been 
returned, or at least not examined. 

Lord Clonmel. — Was there among them a paper that could raise 
anxiety in the prisoner ? 

Attorney-General. — I think there was one that reasonably 
might raise some anxiety in him. 

Reuben Smith. — Examined by Mr. Attorney- General. 

Q. Do you know Mr. Stone of Oldford ? A. Yes. 

Q. Have you seen him write ? A. Yes, frequently. 

Q. Look at that paper (shews witness a paper) whose hand- writing 
is that ? A. I believe it is the hand-writing of Mr. Stone of Oldford 
and of Rutland-place. 

Q. Look at the signature — whose hand- writing is it? A. The 
signature is the name of Stone reversed ; but I think the words W. 
Enots are Mr. Stone's hand-writing. 

Q. Whose hand- writing is the body of the letter ? A. Mr. Stone's. 

[The Clerk of the Crown then read this letter (marked L) as follows :] 

Mr. Thomas Popkins. 
Dear Sir, 

I yesterday received yours of the 5th inst I am happy you find 
yourself so agreeably situated where you are. I have received no 
letter for you, but the day after you left me, I received one to say 
your first letters were received. I have received another since, in 
which mine was acknowledged which I wrote the post after Gillet 
was with us, but no mention was made of any other. 

I have not made use of what you left with me. What a wonderful 
change there is in the family. Will it tend to good ? I confess I 
think better of it now than before. I want what you possess a 
knowledge of the several branches of it to form a proper jndgment of 
the conduct in the last fracas. 

Political affairs seem taking a great turn if we take into our view 
the great whole. I cease to wonder at anything, we seem I think to 
be the only party resolved to go on with vigour. The King of 


Prussia publicly avows his disinclination, and I think the French as 
well as the Emperor shew it by their inaction ; but to what can the 
proscription now going forward in Paris tend, will it purify them and 
make their conduct less exceptionable and their government more 
fixed and permanent. I really feel a kind of awe in thinking on those 
subjects, and see every day new matter to astonish me. 
We are all tolerably well, and I remain, 
Tours very truly, 

April 11th, 1794. 

P.&— Since writing the above, I have received a letter in which 
is, " I have received our friends letters, and you must tell him, that 
having given them to the proper people, he must in future address his 
friend Nicholas and not me ;" and in the conclusion he particularly 
requests he may not be written to. 

I feel particularly happy that the several letters have been received, 
and I trust that even in the peculiar circumstances of the family they 
will produce proper effects. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — We shall now read the paper, No. 5, 
there are two covers, both directed by Cockayne ; the first is directed, 
u A Messrs. Texier, Angely et Massac, A Amsterdam." Within this 
is enclosed a second cover directed, " A Monsieur M. Daudebuscaille, 
A Amsterdam" — and within this is the paper which we shall now 
read, enclosed in a cover marked on the outside with a large black 
cross, and within which is written, " Remember me to Laignelot and 
all our friends." 

[The Clerk of the Crown then read this paper (marked C) as follows :] 

The situation of Ireland and England is fundamentally different in 
this — the government of England is national, that of Ireland provincial. 
The interest of the first is the same with that of the people — of the 
last directly opposite. The people of Ireland are divided into three 
sects ; the Established Church, the Dissenters, and the Catholics ; the 
first infinitely the smallest portion, have engrossed besides the whole 
church patronage, all the profits and honours of the country exclu- 
sively, and a very great share of the landed property. They are of 
course aristocrats, adverse to any change, and decided enemies of the 
French Revolution. The Dissenters, which are much more numerous, 
are the most enlightened body of the nation, they are steady republicans, 
devoted to liberty and through all the stages of the French Revolution, 
have been enthusiastically attached to it. The Catholics, the great 
body of the people, are in the lowest degree of ignorance, and are 
ready for any change, because no change can make them worse. The 
whole peasantry of Ireland, the most oppressed and wretched in 
Europe, may be said to be Catholic They have within these two 
t years received a certain degree of information and manifested a 
proportionate degree of discontent by various insurrections, &c. They 
are a bold, hardy race, and make excellent soldiers. There is nowhere 
ft higher spirit of aristocracy than in all the privileged orders, the 
clergy and gentry of Ireland, down to the very lowest, to countervail 
which, there appears now a spirit rising in the people which never 
existed before, but which is spreading most rapidly as appears by the 


Defenders as they are called, and other insurgents. If the people of 
Ireland be 4,500,000, as it seems probable they are, the Established 
Church may be reckoned at 450,000, the Dissenters at 900,000, the 
Catholics at 3,150,000. The prejudices in England are adverse to 
the French nation under whatever form of government. It seems 
idle to suppose the present rancour against the French is owing merely 
to their being republicans ; it has been cherished by the manners of 
four centuries and aggravated by continual wars. It is morally 
certain that any invasion of England would unite all ranks in opposi- 
tion to the invaders. In Ireland, a conquered, oppressed and insulted 
country, the name of England and her power is universally odious, 
save with those who have an interest in maintaining it : a body 
however only formidable from situation and property, but which the 
first convulsion would level in the dust ; on the contrary, the great 
bulk of the people of Ireland would be ready to throw off the yoke in 
this country, if they saw any force sufficiently strong to resort to for 
defence until arrangements could be made ; the Dissenters are enemies 
to the English power from reason and from reflection, the Catholics 
from a hatred of the English name ; in a word, the prejudices of one 
country are directly adverse of the other, directly favourable to an 
invasion. The government of Ireland is only to be looked upon as a 
government of force, the moment a superior force appears, it would 
tumble at once, as being founded neither in the interests nor in the 
affections of the people. It may be said, the people of Ireland shew 
no political exertion. In the first place, public spirit is completely 
depressed by the recent persecutions of several. The Convention act, 
the Gunpowder, &c. &c. Declarations of government, parliamentary 
unanimity, or declarations of grand juries, all proceeding from 
aristocrats, whose interest is adverse to that of the people, and who 
think such conduct necessary for their security are no obstacles ; the 
weight of such men falls in the general welfare, and their own 
tenantry and dependants would desert and turn against them ; the 
people have no way of expressing their discontent civiliter which is 
at the same time greatly aggravated by those measures, and they are 
on the other hand in that semi-barbarous state which is of all others, 
the best adapted for making war. The spirit of Ireland cannot 
therefore be calculated from newspaper publications, county meetings, 
&c at which the gentry only meet and speak for themselves. They 
are so situated that they have but one way left to make their senti- 
ments known, and that is by war. The church establishments and 
tythes are very severe grievances, and have been the cause of 
numberless local insurrections; in a word, from reason, reflection, 
interest, prejudice, the spirit of change, the misery of the great bulk 
of the nation, and above all, the hatred of the English name resulting 
from the tyranny of near seven centuries, there seems little doubt bat 
an invasion and sufficient force would be supported by the people. 
There is scarce any army in the country, and the militia, the bulk d 
whom are Catholics, would to a moral certainty refuse to act, if they 
saw such a force as they could look to for support 

Mr. Attorney-General. — The other letter directed to Hamburgh, 
is in the same words with this ; we have also proved two other papers 
in the same words, found on Mr. Jackson's table. 



Lord Clonmel. — Read part of each of those papers found on 
Jackson's table ; let their identity appear in proof. 

[The Clerk of the Crown read part of each of the papers marked 
(D) and (E) accordingly, which appeared to be counterparts of the 
paper marked (C) and (D) directed to Monsieur Chapeaurouge, a 
Hamburgh. (E E) two copies found on Jackson's table.] 

Mr. Attobney-General. — We will now prove the paper found 
by Mr. Oliver Carleton on Mr. Jackson's table, which is The State 
of England that has been so much alluded to. 

[Here the Clerk of the Crown read the letter marked (F) as follows :] 

Exclusive of positive information of the temper of the country, it 
may be known by people at a distance by the following signs : 

There are no petitions against the war. 

There are courtly verdicts given by juries with few exceptions. 

There are no mobs, though much distressed. 

There is much readiness to enlist as soldiers. 

There is much quietness in being impressed on the part of seamen. 

The votes of parliament are nearly unanimous, though the parlia- 
ment has run through half its length, and the members of the house 
of Commons look to their re-election. 

The stability of Lord Chatham continues in defiance of all his 

Terror pervades the friends of liberty who would soon shew a 
different appearance if they were countenanced by the majority of 
the people. 

The temper of England is in favour of the first French Revolution 
hut not of the second. However, on the whole it shews symptoms of 
being adverse to the present situation of the war, not from disliking 
its principle, but from seeing little profit in it At the same time, 
though they think its main object unattainable (namely the overthrow 
of the present French system) they would be more earnest for peace 
had they either suffered enough, or did they think the present French 
Government sincerely disposed to peace. 

There are many persons attached to the principles of the French 
Revolution in England, if they are reckoned numerically, but they 
are as nothing compared to the great mass of the people who are 
indisposed to them. 

In Scotland the proportion of Democrats is increasing, but they are 
as yet a small minority. 

Ireland will follow the Democracy of Scotland, each of these 
countries wants time only to convince itself in its own way, but it 
will not be convinced by a French invasion. 

If France were to invade England every man would turn out 
from good will or from fear, and the few who are discontented would 
be quelled with ease, as the French citizens were by La Fayette in 
the Champ de Mars, or the disaffected lately by the Commissioners 
in Alsace. 

There could be but one line of conduct for Englishmen to pursue, 
should the country be invaded. They must defend it. 

Wars being but the means of attaining peace, and the well-meaning 
among the subjects of the Confederates, being told that the French 


are so adverse to peace, or ask such preliminaries, that it is in vain to 
treat with them ; it would be highly useful if France declared after 
any new successes which she may hereafter attain, 

Her aversion to conquest, 

Her disposition to peace, 

Her desire that other nations should govern themselves. 

Her determination of changing this system if the war against her 
is continued. And it would be useful also if every convenient 
opportunity were taken of declaring that her present government is 
revolutionary, and that the constitution of June last will be acted 
upon at the peace ; and also if she declared her regret at the necessity 
of using harsh measures, and now and then employed philanthropic 
language which has an astonishing effect in pacifying the English and 
indeed pacifying Europe. 

It would tend much to conciliate the minds of the English were the 
Convention to decree the liberation of all the English now in a state 
of arrest unaccused of crimes, and restoring to them their property, 
at the same time allowing them to leave the country within a certain 
space of time. 

It would tend also much to create an aversion to the war, were the 
Convention to decree the terms on which they would make peace. 
This conduct would be magnanimous, and if they did not hold out 
terms extravagant, the people of this country would not hesitate to 
speak their aversion to a continuance of the war. 

It would be very advisable to have copies of the more important 
decrees of reports lodged at Havre to come hither by neutral vessels 
for the purpose of being translated. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — We will now read another paper 
proved to have been found on Mr. Jackson's table ; a note from Mr. 
Hamilton Rowan to Mr. Jackson. 

[Here the Clerk of the Crown read a paper marked (O) as follows :] 

Jackson, Esq., Hyde's Coffee-house, Dame-street. 

Well you be so good as to share my breakfast with me to-morrow 
at nine, which I am particularly desirous of — as I find a party made 
for dinner cannot take place. I need not say that by nine I mean 
nine or as near it as you can, for I have hopes that a third person will 
in that case take his share before he leaves town, which I find he is 
forced to do in the course of the morning. 

Newgate, April 15th, 1794. 
Mr. Attorney-General. — We shall read also Mr. Tone's note, 
found also on Mr. Jackson's table. 
[Here the Clerk of the Crown read a paper marked (N) as follows :] 

Jackson, Esq. 

Mr. Tone presents his compliments to Mr. Jackson, and is 
extremely concerned that indispensable law business hurries him out 
of town to-morrow morning. He is of course deprived of the honour 
of attending Mr. Jackson at dinner, but will embrace the first moment 
of his return, which he hopes will be in a week, to pay his respects to 
Mr. Jackson. 

Tuesday Morn. 


Mr. Attorney-General. — We shall offer one piece of evidence 
more ; the letter written by John Holford Stone of Paris, recommend* 
ing the prisoner to Mr. Home Tooke ; it was found on the table in 
the prisoner's room when he was arrested. 

Mr. Curran. — This is not the best evidence the nature of the case 
admits ; if Mr. Stone wrote any letter, he is the person to prove it 

Mr. Attorney-General. — I offer it as a paper found in the 
possession of the prisoner ; but added to that, I wish to prove that it 
is the hand- writing of Mr. Stone of Paris. If Mr. Stone was here 
he could not be examined as to this letter, because it would be to ask 
him whether he was a conspirator : it is to me a matter of indifference 
whether it is proved or not — I offer a witness to prove his hand- 
writing — I care not about the event. 

Lord Clonmel. — I should be inclined to admit this evidence if it 
were necessary, but I should think it is not 

[Mr. Attorney- General being of opinion that the letter was material 
evidence, it was read as follows :] 

John Home Tooke, London. 

Paris, 25 Nivose — Second Year of the 
Republic, one and indivisible. 
My dear Friend, 

The circumstances of the two countries have hitherto prevented 
me from giving or receiving any information respecting you, for as 
there have been few or no other means of communication than the 
post, I have had the traitorous correspondence bill too much before 
my eyes, to hazard your tranquillity, though I had nothing to fear for 
my own ; this however will be delivered to you by a gentleman, a 
citizen, I should have said, to whom you have been heretofore known, 
and I introduce him as one who will be able to give you the most 
accurate information of what is doing, and has been done here — and 
recommend him also as the person to whom you may confide your 
own sentiments respecting the state of affairs in this country or your 

As I know that your prudence keeps some pace with your patriot- 
ism, you may be satisfied that I am sure of the principles of the man 
I thus confidentially introduce to you, and thus much you may repose 
on me. As to the rest, I leave you to arrange it, wishing myself a 
third in the party. 

And now my patriotic friend, let me offer you my warmest and 
most heartfelt congratulations on the immense prospect of public 
happiness which is opening before us ; you are amongst the small 
number of those who in the worst of times have never despaired of 
the cause of liberty, and you are the only one who when the name 
was but a barbarism amongst us, taught the great principles of sacred 
equality which we have so completely reduced to practice. I look 
forward with transport and joy, to the moment when the doctrines 
which you have preached shall receive their due accomplishment, 
when the various parties of ministerialists and oppositionists, dissenters 
and churchmen, nobles, priests and kings shall sink into one undis- 
tinguished mass of ruins, and nothing shall be seen or acknowledged 
hat the people, the sacred voice of the people. 


The little commission which you gave me to the milliner, I have 
properly executed ; it was to have been sent to the ladies the last 
spring, but the untowardness of events at that time hindered the com- 
pletion, and I could not find also any one to whom I could properly 
entrust it, the fashion being a little changed ; if nothing unforeseen 
happens to hinder it, you may expect to have it over in two months 
at farthest ; and under happier auspices than the last spring ; since 
the fashion is so much improved, and I have taken all the precautions 
and even more than you intrusted me with at Tuffins; but the 
sending it as you may suppose will depend on circumstances. 

I leave to the friend I introduce to you the relation of the history 
of this country for the twelve months last past. You will have fallen 
into a thousand errors on the subject of our politics, as I, though on 
the spot, have done, but I think I now see land. 

God bless you, we shall meet under happier circumstances than 
our last, and drink a cool bottle of good Burgundy under the shade 
of our trees, an early day in the next summer, if you can spare so 
much time from your legislative or ministerial avocations. 
Health and fraternity, 


Mr. Attorney-General. — As some attempt has been made to 
discredit the evidence of Mr. Cockayne, we will now produce a 
witness to establish his credit. 

Mr. C urban. — There has not been any evidence called on our side 
to impeach the character of Mr. Cockayne. The gentlemen them- 
selves shew that they have a good opinion of his credit, when they 
want to hoop him before he is cracked. I never saw such a course 

Mr. Attorney-General. — Then you shall see it now, and I hope 
with success ; I think we have a right to call evidence to a witness's 
character, whether it has been attempted to be impeached by other 
evidence, or by something coming out on his cross-examination. 

Mr. C urban. — I am driven, I find, to state the ground of my 
objection ; — I did not think it could be resisted. I conceive the 
uniform rule of law to be, that if the credit of a witness is impeached, 
that witness may purge the impeachment by contradicting the allega- 
tions of the impeachment ; but I submit it that this rule can hold only 
where evidence aliunde is resorted to, to impeach the credit of the 
witness. That the nature of this case makes the application of the 
rule unnecessary ; the rule is, that evidence may be called to 
contradict the impeachment — now, on what is the impeachment here, 
if any there be, founded ? — on the evidence of the man himself. I 
never heard of evidence being called for a man to rebut a man's own 
evidence — to call a witness to rebut something, is to call a witness 
contrary to something; then the witness has been impeached — 
how ? he was asked, were you tried for perjury ? Yes, said he, and 
acquitted ; and honourably ; then the evidence offered goes to rebut 
Cockayne's own evidence. This then is an unusual and extraordinary 
proceeding, and I trust therefore that you will be of opinion that this 
evidence ought not to be received. 

Lord Clonmel. — We are of opinion that this man may be produced 
to this transaction, for what is it to do? it is to produce several 


witnesses to corroborate the same fact. Cockayne says he was tried 
for perjury, and acquitted ; now, the jury may believe that he was 
tried and not believe one word of what he said about his acquittal ; 
then you produce evidence to supply this. 

Mr. Justice Chambeblaine. — I think the testimony of Cockayne 
has been attempted to be impeached ; whether with success or not, I 
do not know ; but the cross-examination could have had no other 
object ; now is he not to be corroborated in a fact material to establish 
his credit ?* 
[The Court having overruled the objection, the witness was called.] 

Robert Mounsey. — Examined by the Solicitor-General. 

Q. Where do you live, sir ? A. In Castle-street, Holborn, in the 
city of London. 

Q. Of what profession are you ? A. I am an attorney and solicitor 
of Westminster- HalL 

Q. What paper is that which you hold in your hand ? A. It is an 
> office copy of the indictment and acquittal of John Cockayne who was 
\ examined here this day. 

Q. Were you present at the trial of Cockayne ? A. I was. 

Q. Have you compared that copy ? A. I did both ways. 

Q. And saw it attested by the proper officer. A. Yes. 

Q. Do you recollect any circumstances that passed upon the trial ? 
A. I recollect what Cockayne related, and everything he has said 
is perfectly true. 

Q. Do you recollect anything else ? A. Mr. Garrow who was his 
counsel, said that they had not produced a copy of the judgment, and 
that Cockayne could take advantage of it, but Cockayne said he would 
not have any advantage taken, but that he would either be found 
guilty or acquitted on the merits. 

Q. How did the prosecutor conduct himself? A. He seemed to be 
very forward, and Mr. Mainwaring, who was the chairman, and one 
of the Prothonotaries who was to tax the bill of costs, called on 
Fletcher, the prosecutor, and desired him not to be so very forward. 

Q. Did any friends attend Cockayne on his trial ? A. Mr. Impey, 
who wrote Impe/s Practice, Mr. Lowton the Marshal, and several 
respectable people came forward as his Mends. 

Q. Was the acquittal on the merits ? A. It was. He was acquitted 
on the prosecutor's evidence, without calling a witness. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Ponsonby. 

Q. Did Cockayne ever appear for you as a witness in any cause at 
Work? A. Never. 

Q. Is he a particular acquaintance of yours ? A. He is not. 
Q. What is your motive in coming forward this day ? A. Because 
I thought him very ill used. 

Q. Had you not any other business here ? A. None other but to 
give an account of this transaction. 

• Biahop of Durham v. Beaumont, 1 Camp, 207 ; R. ». Clarke, 2 SUrkie's 



John Cockayne called up by Mr. Curran. 

Q. In what part of the house did you lie ? A. I lay on the 
floor with Mr. Jackson. 

Q. Who usually got up first ? A. I was generally up before him. 

Q. Have you heard there were any papers found in his chamber ? 
A. I have. 

Q. Had you any papers in his chamber the evening before ? I 
should think not. 

Q. Did you ever say to any person that you had the papers which 
were found there in your hands at twelve o'clock the night before ? 
A. I never did. 

Mr. Curran. — My lords, and gentlemen of the jury, I am sure the 
attention of the court must be a good deal fatigued. I am sure, 
gentlemen of the jury, that your minds must of necessity be fatigued 
also. Whether counsel be fatigued or not, is matter very little worth 
the observation that may be made upon it I am glad that it is not 
necessary for me to add a great deal to the labour, either of the court, 
or the jury. Of the court I must have some knowledge — of the jury 
I certainly am not ignorant. I know it is as unnecessary for me to 
say much, or perhaps anything to inform the court, as it would be 
ridiculous to affect to lecture a jury of the description I have the 
honour to address. I know I address a court, anxious to expound 
fairly, and impartially, the law of the country, without any appre- 
hension of the consequences, and effect of any prosecution. In the 
jury I am looking to now, I know I address twelve sensible and 
respectable men of my country, who are as conscious as I am of the 
great obligation to which they have pledged themselves by their oath, 
to decide upon the question fairly, without listening to passion, or 
being swayed by prejudice — without thinking of anything except the 
charge which has been made, and the evidence which has been brought 
in support of that charge. They know as well as I do, that the great 
object of a jury is to protect the country against crimes, and to protect 
individuals against all accusation, that is not founded in truth. They 
will remember — I know they will remember, that the great object of 
their duty is, according to the expression of a late venerated judge in 
another country, that they are to come into the box with their minds 
like white paper, upon which prejudice, or passion, or bias, or talk, 
or hope, or fear, has not been able to scrawl anything. That you, 
gentlemen, come into the box, standing indifferent as you stood 

In the little, gentlemen, that I shall take the liberty of addressing 
to you, I shall rest the fate of it upon its intrinsic weight. I shall 
not leave the case in concealment. If there be no ground on which the 
evidence can be impeached, I will venture to say I will neither bark at 
it, nor scold it, in lieu of giving it an answer. Whatever objection 
I have to make, shall be addressed to your reason. I will not saj 
they are great, or conclusive, or unanswerable objections. I shall 
submit them to you nakedly as they appear to me. If they have 
weight, you will give it to them. If they have not, a great promise 
on my part will not give anticipated weight to that whose debility will 
appear when it comes to be examined. 




Gentlemen, you are empannelled to try a charge. It consists of two 
offences particularly described in the indictment The first question 
ia, what is the allegation ? In the first branch, the prisoner is indicted 
upon a statute, which inflicts the pains and penalties of high treason 
upon any man, who shall compass or imagine the king's death. The 
nature of the offence, if you required any comment on it, has been 
learnedly, and I must add, candidly commented upon by Mr. Attorney- 
General in stating the case. The second part is, that the prisoner 
did adhere to the king's enemies. By the law of this country, there 
are particular rules, applicable to cases of prosecutions for high 
treason, contradistinguished from all the other branches of the 
criminal law. The nature of the offence called for this peculiarity 
of regulation. There is no species of charge to which innocent men 
may more easily be made victims, than that of offences against the 
state, and therefore it was necessary to give an additional protection 
to the subject. There is an honest impulse in the natural and 
laudable loyalty of every man, that warms his passions strongly 
against the person who endeavours to disturb the public quiet and 
security ; it was necessary therefore to guard the subject against the 
most dangerous of all abuses, the abuse of a virtue, by extraordinary 
vigilance. There was another reason : — there is no charge which is 
so vague and indefinite, and yet would be more likely to succeed, 
than charging a man as an enemy to the state. There is no case in 
which the venality of a base informer, could have greater expectation 
of a base reward. Therefore, gentlemen, it was necessary to guard 
persons accused from the over hasty virtue of a jury on the one hand, 
and on the other from being made the sacrifice of the base and rank 
prostitution of a depraved informer. How has the law done this ? 
By pointing out in terms, these rules and orders that shall guide the 
court, and bind the jury in the verdict they shall give. The man 
shall be a traitor, if he commits the crime, but it must be a crime of 
which he should be provably attaint, by overt acts. And in order 
that there be an opportunity of investigation and defence, the features 
of the overt acts should be stated of public record in the very body of 
the indictment. Justly do I hear it observed, that there cannot be 
devised a fairer mode of accusation and trial, than this is. Gentlemen, 
I have stated to you, how the foundation of it stands in both countries, 
touching the mode of accusation and trial. I have to add to you, that 
in Great Britain it has been found necessary still further to increase 
the sanction of the jury, and the safety of the prisoner, by an express 
statute in King William's time. By that law it is now settled in that 
great country, that no man shall be indicted or convicted, except 
upon the evidence of two witnesses, and it describes what sort of 
evidence that shall be, either two witnesses swearing directly to the 
same overt act laid in the indictment ; or two witnesses, one swearing 
to one overt act, and the other to another overt act of the same species 
of treason. So that in that country, no man can be found guilty, 
except upon the evidence of two distinct credible witnesses, credible 
in their testimony, distinct in their persons, and concurring in the 
evidence of acts, of one and the same class of treason ; for it must be 
to the same identical treason, sworn to by both witnesses ; or one 
witness deposing to one act of treason, and the other to another act of 


the same class of treason ; that is the settled law of the neighbouring 
kingdom, and I state it to you emphatically to be the settled law ; 
because far am I from thinking, that we have not the blessing of 
living under the same sanction of law, far am I from imagining that 
the breath which cannot even taint the character of a man in England, 
shall here blow him from the earth — that the proof, which in England 
would not wound the man, shall here deprive him of his life — that 
though the people in England would laugh at the accusation, yet here 
it shall cause the accused to perish under it Sure I am that in a 
country where so few instances of a foul accusation of this sort have 
occurred, the judges of the court will need little argument to give 
effect to everything urged to shew, that the law is the same in Ireland 
as in England. 

Lord Clonmel. — Do you mean to argue that the statute of William 
is in force in Ireland ? 

Mr. Curban. — No, my lord ; not that the statute of William is in 
force-— but I mean to argue, that the necessity of two witnesses in the 
case of treason is as strong here as in England. It is the opinion of 
Lord Coke, founded upon a number of authorities ; the opinion of 
Lord Coke, referring to a judicial confirmation of what he says ; the 
opinion of Lord Coke controverted, if it can be said to be controverted 
by the modest and diffident dissent of Sir Michael Foster. It is laid 
down by Lord Coke, that he conceives it to be the established law, 
that two witnesses are necessary to convict : 3 Inst. 26. " It seemeth 
that by the ancient common law, one accuser or witness was not 
sufficient to convict any person of high treason — and that two wit- 
nesses be required, appeareth by our books, and I remember no 
authority in our books to the contrary." I know of no judicial deter- 
mination in our books to the contrary of what Lord Coke here states: 
the common law is grounded upon the principles of reason. I con- 
sider the statutes of Edw. VL, and William III., as statutes which had 
become necessary from the abuses occasioned by a departure from the 
common law. After the statute of Edw. VL, expressly declaring the 
necessity of two witnesses, the courts had fallen into, perhaps a well 
intentioned departure from the meaning of the statute of Edw. VL, so 
far that the place of two witnesses was supplied in evidence by any 
thing that the court thought a material additional circumstance in the 
case ; and to the time of William III., such a departure had prevailed, 
and this was thought sufficient to discharge every thing respecting 
the obligations of the statute. It became necessary therefore to enact, 
and by that enaction to do away the abuse of the principle of the 
common law, by expressly declaring that no man should be indicted 
or convicted except by two witnesses to one overt act, or one witness 
to one act, and a second to another act of high treason of the same 
species. And there seems to me to be a sound distinction between 
the case of high treason, and of any other crime. It is the only 
crime which every subject is sworn against committing : It is the 
only crime which any subject is sworn to abstain from. In every 
other case the subject is left to the fear of punishment which he may 
feel, or to the dictates of his conscience to guard himself against 
transgressing the law ; but treason is a breach of his oath of allegiance, 
and is so far like the case of perjury : and therefore in the case of 



treason, no man should be convicted by the testimony of a single 
witness, because it amounts to no more than oath against oath : so 
that it is only reasonable there should be another to turn the scale ; 
and therefore it is that I conceive Lord Coke well warranted in lay- 
ing down this rule, a rule deduced from general justice, and even 
from the law of God himself. Gentlemen, what I am now stating, I 
offer to the court as matter of law. 

But what were these witnesses ? Witnesses in all cases beyond 
exception, in their personal circumstances, and in their personal 
credit. Therefore it is the law, that no man shall be found* guilty of 
any offence that is not legally proved upon him by the sworn testi- 
mony of credible witnesses. Gentlemen, I have submitted my humble 
ideas of the law — I have stated the charge which the prisoner was 
called upon to answer : Let me now state the overt acts, which in 
this particular case are necessary to be proved. The first is, that the 
prisoner did traitorously come to, and land in Ireland, to procure 
information concerning the subjects of Ireland, and to send that 
information to the persons exercising the government in France, to 
aid them in carrying on the war against the King. I do not recollect 
that Cockayne said one single word of the prisoner's coming here for 
such purpose. The second overt act is, that the prisoner did traitor- 
ously intend to raise and levy war, and incite persons to invade 
Ireland with arms and men ; that he did incite Theobald Wolfe Tone 
to go beyond seas to incite France to invade this Kingdom ; that he 
did endeavour to procure persons to go to France ; and that he agreed 
with other persons, that they should be sent to France for the same 
purpose. Having stated these overt acts which are laid in the indict- 
ment, you will be pleased to recollect the evidence given by Cockayne. 
Cockayne did not say that the prisoner came over here for any such 
purpose as the overt act attributes to him ; then, as to the overt act, 
of endeavouring to procure persons to go to France for the purpose 
of giving information to the enemy ; the witness said he met Mr. 
M'Nally; he had known him in England ; Jackson was a clergyman; 
he had known him also. Cockayne had professional business with 
Mr. M'Nally. Mr. M'Nally paid them a courtesy which any decent 
person would have been entitled to. They dined at his house, and 
met three or four persons there ; they talked of the politics of Ireland ; 
of the dissatisfaction of the people ; but not a syllable of what is 
stated in the indictment ; not one word of any conspiracy ; Cockayne 
did not pretend to be able to give any account of any specific conver- 
sation ; he went to Newgate ; Rowan was then in confinement ; he 
sometimes went by himself; sometimes met Tone, sometimes Jackson ; 
he gave you an account of encouragement ; what was it? Was there 
any thing to support this indictment ? Let me remind you that you 
are to found your verdict on what the witness says and you believe, 
and not on what learned counsel may be instructed to state. Then 
what does the witness say ? He admits that he did not hear all the 
conversation. The crying injustice must strike you, of making a 
man answerable for a part of a conversation, where the witness did 
not hear it all; but take it as he has stated it, unqualified and uncon- 
strued: how high was he wrought up by it? He heard talk of 
somebody to go to France ; he was to cany papers ; he heard an 


expression of instructions to the French; what French? What 
instructions ? It might be to French manufacturers ; it might be to 
French traitors ; it might be to the French King ; it might be to the 
French Convention. Do I mean to say that there was nothing by 
which a credulous or reasonable man might not have his suspicion 
raised, or that there was nothing in three or four men huddling them- 
selves together in Newgate and talking of an invasion? No, but my 
reasoning is this — that your verdict is to be founded on evidence of 
positive guilt established at the hazard of the personal punishment of 
the witness, you are not to pick up the conjectures either of his 
malignity or credulity. I say that this man stands in defiance of your 
verdict, because it will be effected by nothing but that irresistible 
evidence on which alone it ought to be founded. But what was the 
fact which Tone was to do or any other person ? It was an illegal 
one. By a late act, an English subject going to France is liable to 
six months' imprisonment. By a clause in the same statute the crime 
of soliciting a person to go is also punishable. The encouraging any 
person to go to that country was therefore exposing him to danger, 
but whether it was a motive of trade, or smuggling, or idle adventure 
is not the question for you. It is whether the intention was to 
convey an incitement to the French to make a descent on this king- 
dom, and endeavour to subvert the constitution of it. You have a 
simple question before you — has even the prosecutor sworn that he 
endeavoured to do so? I think not. The next overt act charged is, 
that he did compose and write a letter in order to be sent to William 
Stone, in which he traitorously desired Stone to disclose to certain 
persons in France the scheme and intention of Jackson, to send a 
person to inform them of the state of Ireland, for the purpose of 
giving support and effect to an hostile invasion of this country. You 
have heard these letters read. You must of necessity look on them 
in one or two important and distinct points of view. The first 
perhaps that will naturally strike you is, what are these letters ? Do 
they sustain the allegations of the overt act? Are they letters 
requiring Stone to inform the Convention, of this country being in 
such a state as to encourage an invasion ? Does that paper support 
this allegation ? God help us ! gentlemen of the jury ! I know not 
in what state the property or life of any man will be if they are 
always to be at the mercy, and to depend on the possibility of his 
explaining either the real or pretended circumstances on which he 
corresponds with persons abroad. The letters are written apparently 
upon mercantile subjects — he talks of manufactures, of a firm, of 
prices changed, of different- families, of differences among them, of 
overtures to be accepted of, of disputes likely to be settled by means 
of common mediation : what is the evidence on which you can be 
supported in saying that manufactures mean treason — that Nicholas 
means the war minister of France — the sister-in-law Ireland — that 
" the firm has been changed," means Danton has been gullotined, but 
that makes no alteration in the state of the house, meaning the 
circumstances of the revolution—- that the change of prices and 
manufactures means anything else necessary to give consistency to 
the charge of treason. Give me leave to say that this ludicrous and 
barbarous consequence would follow from a rule of this sort, the 



idlest letter might be strained to any purpose. The simplicity of our 
law is, that a man's guilt should be proved by the evidence of wit* 
nesses on their oaths, which shall not be supplied by fancy, nor 
elicited by the ingenuity of any person making suggestions to the 
wretched credulity of a jury that should be weak enough to adopt 
them. I come now to this. A letter produced imports on the face 
of it to be a letter of business, concerning manufactures — another 
concerning family differences. In which way are they to be under- 
stood ? I say with confidence, better it should be to let twenty men, 
that might have a criminal purpose in writing letters of this kind, 
escape, than fall into the dreadful alternative of making one man a 
victim to a charge of this kind not supported by such proof as could 
bring conviction on the mind of a rational jury. 

I do not think it necessary to state to you minutely, the rest of 
these allegations of the overt acts. The charge against the prisoner 
is supported, and this is perhaps the clearest way of calling your 
attention to the evidence, either by the positive evidence of Cockayne 
as to these facts, or by the written evidence which stands also on his 
testimony alone. Touching actual conspiracy he said nothing : some- 
body was to go to France— he knew not for what — he had an idea 
on his mind for what it was — but never from any communication with 
Jackson. There have been other letters read in evidence. Two of 
them contained duplicates of a sort of representation of the supposed 
state of Ireland. Cockayne says that he got the packet from Jackson, 
that he himself wrote the directions ; one, addressed to Amsterdam, 
the other to Hamburgh. They were read, and they contain asssertions, 
whether true or false I do not think material, of the state of this 
country. If material at all, material only in their falsehood. The 
public are satisfied that these allegations are false. It is known to 
every man in this country, and must be known with great satisfaction 
by every honest man, that it is not in that state that could induce any 
but the most adventurous and wicked folly to try an experiment upon 
it. It is unnecessary for me to comment on the opinions contained in 
that paper ; there is a matter more material, and calling more loudly 
for your attention. It is stated to be written with the purpose of 
inviting the persons governing in France to try a descent upon Ireland. 
This paper is evidence to support that charge ; you have heard it 
read. On what public subject have you ever heard six men speak 
and all to agree? Might not a stranger, in a fit of despondency 
imagine that an invasion might have a fatal effect on this country ? 
It is not impossible but if ten men were to make a landing, some 
mischief might happen. Then again, what do I mean to argue ? Is 
it that this letter bears no marks of the design imputed to it ? No 
such thing. It is a letter that the most innocent man might write, 
but it is also such a one as a guilty man might write, but unless there 
was clear evidence of his guilt, he would be entitled to your verdict 
of acquittal. Though it was not expressly avowed, yet I cannot help 
thinking that it was meant to lay some little emphasis on certain 
names which I have met with in the newspapers — I am sure I have 
met the name of Laignelot in the debates of the Convention — I have 
met the name of Home Tooke and Stone in the English papers. I 
have read that Horne Tooke was tried for high treason and acquitted. 


That Stone made his escape into Switzerland. I believe it is said 
that there is a person of that name in confinement in England at 
present. But let me tell you, you are not to draw any inferences from 
circumstances of this kind against the prisoner, let me tell you it is 
the guilt of the man and not the sound of names by which his fate is 
to be decided. 

Other papers have been read. One seems to contain some form 
of addresses. A letter said to come from Stone has been read to 
you. The letter to Beresford, said to be written by Jackson, 
has also been read to you. I have stated the material parts of 
the evidence. I have endeavoured to submit my poor idea of 
the rule by which you ought to be guided. I see only one remain- 
ing topic to trouble you upon ; it appears to me to be a topic 
of the utmost importance. And, gentlemen, it is this. Who is the 
man that has been examined to support this charge ? One witness. I 
beseech you to have that engraven on your minds. The charge in 
all its parts stands only on the evidence of Cockayne ; there is no 
other evidence of any conversation, there is not a material letter 
read in this case that does not rest upon Cockayne's evidence, and 
that I am warranted in this assertion you will see to a demonstration 
when I remind the Court that he was the only witness as I recollect 
called to prove the hand-writing of Jackson. On his testimony 
alone must depend the fact of their being his hand- writing, of the 
inuendoes imputed to them or the purpose with which they were 

Gentlemen, I am scarcely justified in having trespassed so long on 
your patience. It is a narrow case. It is a case of a man charged 
with the highest and most penal offence known by our law, and 
charged by one witness only. And let me ask, who that witness is? 
A man stating that he comes from another country, armed with a 
pardon for treasons committed in Ireland, but not in England whence 
he comes. What ! were you never on a jury before ? Did you ever 
hear of a man forfeiting his life on the unsupported evidence of a 
single witness, and he an accomplice by his own confession ? What ! 
his character made the subject of testimony and support ! take his 
own vile evidence for his character. He was the foul traitor of his 
own client. What do you think now of Ids character ? He was a spy 
upon his friend. He was the man that yielded to the tie of three 
oaths of allegiance, to watch the steps of his client for the bribe of 
government, with a pardon for the treasons he might commit ; and he 
had impressed on his mind the conviction that he was liable to be 
executed as a traitor. Was he aware of his crime? His pardon 
speaks it. Was he aware of the turpitude of his character, — he came 
with the cure — he brought his witness in his pocket. To what ? To 
do away an offence which he did not venture to deny ; that he had 
incautiously sworn that which was false in fact, though the jury did 
not choose to give it the name of wilful and corrupt perjury. Gra- 
cious God ! Is it then on the evidence of a man of this kind, with his 
pardon in his pocket, and his bribe — not yet in his pocket — that you 
can venture to convict the prisoner. He was to be taken care of. 
How so ? Jackson owed him a debt — " I was to do the honourable 
business of a spy and informer, and to be paid for it in the common 


way — it was common acreable work — treason and conspiracy — I was 
to be paid for it by the sheet." Do you find men doing these things 
in common life ? I have now stated the circumstances by which, in 
my opinion, the credit of Cockayne ought to be reduced to nothing in 
your eyes. But I do not rest here. Papers were found in the 
chamber of Mr. Jackson — the door was open, and by the bye, that* 
carelessness was not evidence of any conscious guilt — the papers were 
seized — that there were some belonging to Jackson is clear, because 
he expressed an anxiety about some that are confessed not to have 
any relation to the subject of this day's trial I asked Cockayne if he 
had any papers in Jackson's room the night before he was arrested — 
he said not. I asked him if he had told any person that he had — he 
said not. Gentlemen, the only witness I shall call, will be one to 
shew you that he has in that sworn falsely. And let me here make 
one observation to you, the strength and good sense of which has 
been repeated an hundred times, and therefore rests on better authority 
than mine. Where a witness swears glibly to a number of circum- 
stances, where it is impossible to produce contradictory proof, and is 
found to fail in one, it shall overthrow all the others. And see how 
strongly the observation applies here — he swore to a conversation 
with Jackson as to what he said and did, well knowing that Jackson 
could not be a witness to disprove that, unless the good sense of the 
jury should save his life, and enable him to become in his turn a pro- 
secutor for the perjury. If on a point of this kind this man should 
be found to have forsworn himself, it cannot occasion any other senti- 
ment but this, that if you have felt yourselves disposed to give 
anything like credit to his evidence where he has sworn to facts which 
he must have known, it is the key-stone of the arch in his testimony, 
and if you can pluck it from its place, the remainder of the pile will 
fall in ruins about his head. I will produce that witness — but before 
I sit down, permit me, gentlemen of the jury, to remind you, that if 
every word wliich Cockayne has here sworn were sworn in West- 
minster-Hall, the judges would immediately have said — there is not 
anything for the jury to decide upon ; the evidence of incitement rests 
on him alone, there is no second witness ; so does the transaction of 
the letters ; for De Joncourt's testimony could not have satisfied the 
statute ; it was not evidence to the same overt act as affecting Jackson 
personally, nor was it evidence of any distinct overt act, it was merely 
that species of evidence, the abuse of which had been the cause of 
introducing the statute act of William ; a mere collateral concomitant 
evidence. The overt act was writing and putting into the post-office, 
that was sworn to by Cockayne, and if he deserved credit, would go 
so far as to prove the fact by one witness. See what the idea of the 
statute is ; it is that it must be an overt act brought home to the 
prisoner by each of the two witnesses swearing to it. If De Jon- 
court's evidence stood single, it could not have brought anything home 
to Jackson. Cockayne swore the superscription was his writing ; he 
put the letters into the office. De Joncourt said nothing but that he 
found in the office a letter which he produced, and which Cockayne 
said was the one he had put into it. This observation appears to 
collect additional strength from this circumstance. Why did they 
not produce Tone ? It is said they could not. I say they could. It 


was as easy to pardon him as to pardon Cockayne. But whether he 
was guilty or not is no objection. Shall it be said that the argument 
turns about and affects Jackson as much as it does the prosecutor ? I 
think certainly not. Jackson, I believe it has appeared in the course 
of the evidence, and is matter of judicial knowledge to the court, has 
lain in prison for twelve months past, from the moment of his arrest 
to the moment of his trial. If he is conscious that the charge is false, 
it is impossible for him to prove that falsehood ; he was so circum- 
stanced as that he could not procure the attendance of witnesses ; a 
stranger in the country, he could not tell whether some of the persons 
named were in existence or not. I have before apologized to you for 
trespassing upon your patience, and I have again trespassed — let me 
not repeat it. I shall only take the liberty of reminding you, that 
if you have any doubt, in a criminal case doubt should be acquittal, 
that you are trying a case which if tried in England would preclude 
the jury from the possibility of finding a verdict of condemnation. It 
is for you to put it into the power of mankind to say, that that which 
should pass harmlessly over the head of a man in Great Britain shall 
blast him here ; — whether life is more valuable in that country than 
in this, or whether a verdict may more easily be obtained here in a 
case tending to establish pains and penalties of this severe nature. 

[William Humphrya was then called several times for the prisoner, 
but did not attend.] 

Mr. Ponsonby. — Mr. Curran has gone so fully into the case as to 
leave very little for me to say upon the subject Gentlemen of the 
jury, the Court will, I am sure, tell you that the laws of England and 
Ireland know no single authority so great as that of Sir Edward Coke. 
I am not afraid to be contradicted, when I say, that in point of 
learning, practice, experience and reputation, as a lawyer, no man has 
arisen in these countries whose authority holds an equal place with 
his ; and he lays down the common law to be, that no man can be 
convicted of high treason bat on the evidence of two witnesses. I do 
freely admit that later lawyers have held his doctrine to be erroneous, 
and that in truth the common law is, that on the evidence of a single 
witness, a man may be convicted of high treason. I admit that Sir 
Michael Foster and Serjeant Hawkins say so. I admit Foster an 
authority, but I do not admit Hawkins an authority. But I do not 
admit them or any other man so great an authority as Lord Coke — 
and he expressly lays it down, that on the evidence of one man only 
shall no person be convicted of high treason. I am ready to read the 
words of Foster : he says, page 233, Ir. Ed. " It hath been generally 
agreed and I think upon just grounds (though Lord Coke hath 
advanced a contrary doctrine), that at common law one witness was 
sufficient in the case of treason, as well as in every other capital case." 
No man will deny that Coke stands higher than any other lawyer, 
and no man will deny that that difference subsisted between him and 
those men. But whatsoever may be the opinion of Foster, who wrote 
in the reign of Geo. II. he was giving his opinion on a case perfectly 
out of the way at that time — on a case on which it was totally unne- 
cessary for him to give an opinion — on a case that had not nor could 
not have been drawn into controversy for eighty years before ; be- 
cause that early in the reign of King William there passed an act for 



the regulation of trials in high treason. This was an act declaratory 
of the common law as was the St. Ed. III. ; for no lawyer will say, 
that the statute of treasons, the best statute in our statute books is 
anything else than declaratory of the common law of England. Lord 
Coke says expressly that one witness was not sufficient, others have 
differed from him ; but the stat. W. III. put the question out of dis- 
pute for the future, because it enacts that no man be convicted of high 
treason, but on the oaths of two credible witnesses. Whatever might 
have been the opinion of lawyers before, it is clear from the time of 
passing that statute, the question was put out of doubt, because two 
witnesses are now expressly required. Therefore, when Foster wrote 
that book, he was giving an opinion more as an antiquarian than a 
lawyer, because he was examining a subject which could not come into 
discussion so long as the statute of William III. remained. If the 
legislature had not conceived Lord Coke right in his idea of the common 
law, why should they have thought it necessary to pass that act ? 
either they held that no man could be convicted without the testimony 
of two witnesses, or they thought proper to enact it for the first time. 
They could have but this reason for it, that if the law was not so, it 
ought to be so. Cockayne is the only witness that has appeared to you 
in this case, for as to the others they have been merely examined to the 
finding of papers here, delivering letters there, or something of that 
sort. None of them were examined to prove any criminal charge 
whatever against Jackson. The written letters are proved only by 
Cockayne, the conversations are proved only by Cockayne, in short the 
alleged treason in this case is proved only by Cockayne. And, gentle- 
men of the jury, it demands serious consideration on your part, 
whether, even supposing the law of Ireland to be such as that a may be 
convicted on the evidence of a single witness, Cockayne be such a one 
as will justify you in finding a verdict of conviction on his testimony. 
By the law of England there must be either two witnesses to the same 
overt act, or one of them to one, and another to another overt act of 
the same treason ; but if there be two distinct treasons of divers kinds 
in one bill of indictment, one witness to one, and another to another 
of the said treasons would not be sufficient within the act. How is 
the treason alleged here? There are two species charged, compassing 
the king's death and adhering to his enemies. Do they produce two 
witnesses to any one overt act, as the law of England requires ? No. 
But they allege two distinct treasons, and produce but one witness to 
prove both ; in England you must have two witnesses to one species 
of treason, here it seems, there needs but one witness to two species 
of treason. Does Cockayne appear to you in such a light as to justify 
you in your consciences to take away a man's life on the credit of his 
evidence ? See the account he gives of himself, he said he thought 
Jackson had some intention of sending to the enemy some articles 
that were prohibited, and he came here to prevent him. Was it 
necessary to prevent Jackson from sending goods from Ireland, that 
he should be allowed to come hither, instead of being stopt in Eng- 
land ? Was there no other way of doing that but by his coming 
with him to Ireland ? Because, if he said truly, he thought that the 
best way to prevent Jackson's sending goods from hence, was to let 
him come hither. But it is plain from his own swearing that that 


could not be his object It must have been to forward him in the 
execution of his criminal intentions in order to betray him, and then 
to be rewarded for his treachery. I know not in what light to look 
on Cockayne. Shall I call him what the law calls an approver, was 
he in his secrets ? Did he join him ? Did he afterwards betray him ? 
If so, the old maxim of our law was that no man for any crime could 
be convicted on the evidence of such a person. I allow that latter 
practice has departed from that rule, and that the evidence of an ap- 
prover which was formerly driven from the bar is now received. 
But of all the evidence known it is not only the most odious but the 
weakest, and no judge ever tries such a case, who does not tell the 
jury so. Now, in what light does Cockayne stand ? if he is to be 
believed, he must have known Jackson's projects : in intention he 
must have been as criminal as Jackson — and this for the purpose of 
betraying his confidence and being rewarded for it ; for this purpose 
he becomes an approver against the man with whom he had been 
engaged — and this man was the only witness. If there were criminal 
plots existing, why not examine others ? Why not examine Tone, or 
Lewins ? it was as easy to pardon them as Cockayne : if their story 
was true, why did they rest the credit of it on Cockayne, when they 
might have had other witnesses ? — and then, they might have had, 
not only more, but better evidence — then they might have had the 
evidence of men, though equally criminal, yet not equally disgrace- 
ful — of men who had not upon their oaths, and before the eyes of the 
jury, been base enough to betray their fellow traitor ; they might 
have had evidence on which the jury might have rested : a pardon 
would have made them competent — their conduct would have cleared 
them from the business — can you think that they would have brought 
this case forward, supported by such a witness as Cockayne alone, if 
they could have ventured to produce the rest ; if their story was true, 
they would either have prosecuted the rest for treason, or have par- 
doned them in order to produce them here. 

Cockayne tells you that when the letters were put into the post- 
office, they were not indeed intended to be sent abroad ; they were 
never to go out of the country, for he himself knew they would be 
stopt ; yet the indictment avers that they were intended to be sent 
out of the country, and were delivered at the post-office for that 

It is difficult indeed to lay much stress on the evidence of Cockayne 
— his memory was singularly bad — he was present at many meetings 
— at various conversations — yet, he could remember nothing — he 
understood, he thought, he believed ; but he could not swear. What 
was the fact ? Was it that he was present at these meetings, these 
conversations, and yet did not remember them ? No, the object of 
this hesitation, this pretended delicacy, was, that when he should 
come to the material parts of the case, they might so far work on 
your minds as to induce you to give credit to him. Do you think he 
would not have sworn to hang Jackson, if he thought it material to 
get his money from Mr. Pitt ? No reward did he require, no reward 
did he ask, but only the amount of a debt due to him by the prisoner, 
that was all he expected, all he desired to receive. Now, can you 
mngine that he would have hesitated but from an affected delicacy, 


that be might reserve himself for what he thought the most important 
parts of the case. 

The character of Cockayne has been supported by a witness — the 
character of Cockayne has been given by himself- —he was shocked 
at the base idea of being accused of perjury ; he was happy in 
declaring that he thought that a greater reproach than to have led his 
friend into a crime — the greatest crime he could commit — and to have 
betrayed him when he had done so. What a witness ! who glowed 
with indignation at the imputation of perjury — and gloried in murder 
— for it was positive murder, if he knew the man meant to do this, 
to encourage him in it, to support him in it, and then to betray him. 
Do you feel such a man as this, a witness on whose testimony you 
ought to take away the life of a fellow-creature ? In England, had 
he been a witness in such a case as this, he must have been sent off 
the table, and the jury must have been discharged ; but by crossing 
the sea, he is to become a good witness ; and he can take away the 
life of a man in Ireland, though in England he could not touch a 
hair of his head. If the court shall be against me and say that one 
witness is sufficient, I submit : but I say to you, gentlemen of the 
jury, examine your hearts well, and say, will you be satisfied on the 
evidence of such a witness, to take away the life of any man. 

Lord Clonmel. — You have heard what has been said by your 
counsel ; would you wish to add anything to what they have said ? 

Mr. Jackson. — My lord, I wish to consult my counsel whether it 
would be proper. 

After some conference with his counsel, Mr. Jackson said he would 
not trouble the court. 

Mr. Pkime- Serjeant, in reply. — My lords, and gentlemen of the 
jury. I do not know that I ever in my life rose with more anxiety 
to discharge that duty which I owe to the public — an anxiety lest I 
should leave anything undone, which that duty demanded, and an 
anxiety, lest in the discharge of that duty I should transgress those 
limits which the humanity and conscience of an advocate prescribe 
to him, when he speaks in a case, where the life of a party is at stake. 
Therefore I conjure you, gentlemen, to discharge your minds from 
everything you may have heard before this day, upon the subject of 
the trial ; from every impression, which the mention of such a crime 
may have occasioned, and that you will listen to the court, who are 
bound to declare the law as you are to decide the fact, and take from 
their opinion what the law is. I have heard this subject treated for 
two hours past as if this trial were in Great Britain, and that you 
were called upon, not to decide the case upon law existing in this 
country where the trial is had, but as if it were had in the sister 
kingdom. To borrow an expression from the witness, I should feel 
this the severest day I ever experienced, if that were to be the case : 
or that I could bring myself to suspect that such language would be 
used, because I should be controlled by those having power so to do. 
There is nothing clearer, than that, by the law of Ireland, one witness 
believed is sufficient to convict, and I conjure your lordships with the 
utmost earnestness, if I am wrong in the law, that you will correct 
me. It will become my duty to state the evidence, and, under the 
direction of the court, those facts, upon which you, gentlemen, are to 


form your judgment. The prisoner stands indicted for two distinct 
species of high treason: first, for compassing and imagining the death 
of the King : next, for adhering to the King's enemies ; and that I 
may not, by any possibility, be guilty of misleading your judgments, 
I shall refer in the course of the observations I shall make, to that 
which is acknowledged to be the first authority. The cases of com- 
passing the death of the King, or adhering to his enemies, are the 
only instances in the law, where the will and intention, prosecuted 
by an act, whether successful or not, are equivalent to the deed. Hie 
moment the wicked intention of compassing the death of the King, 
or adhering to his enemies is followed by an act, which you shall 
believe to have been in prosecution of those schemes, the guilt is 
complete : the measure of the iniquity of the party is full. Where- 
fore for the advantage of the prisoner, for the charge is strong against 
him, it is necessary that the indictment upon which he was arraigned 
should state all those specific facts from which the intention is to be 
drawn ; for, as an overt act of that intention, no evidence can be 
given, that is not stated specifically by the indictment ; and no 
evidence can be given, that is not evidence of the act laid* You will 
see, gentlemen, the advantage which the prisoner derives from this; 
before he is put to plead, he is apprised of everything alleged against 
him ; directly the contrary of that, which occurs in any other criminal 
prosecution. The use I make of that is, that you may see whether 
there has been any use made by the prisoner of the notice which he 
had of the charge brought against him. 

Having thus stated what I conceive to be the law with the utmost 
scrupulousness, let me state the overt acts, and see whether you are 
satisfied upon them. The single question for you, gentlemen, is, 
whether the facts alleged were done by the prisoner? and 2dly, if 
done, whether they relate to the charge brought against him. I 
should be much better pleased, I declare most solemnly, that I did 
not think there was evidence to support any of the overt acts laid in 
this indictment, and that I am sorry to say, there is evidence for your 
consideration upon every one of them. You, gentlemen, will weigh 
it with every possible attention, the life of a fellow-creature being at 
stake. Mr. Cockayne is the principal, but not the only witness in 
support of the overt acts. Nothing can make so strong an impression 
upon the mind of a jury as the manner, the air, and temper with 
which testimony is given. The counsel for the prisoner endeavoured 
to take advantage of that distress under which the witness laboured, 
as if he had been prevailed upon to interfere for the purpose of 
taking away the life of the prisoner at the bar. The witness said 
that this day he felt as the most severe he had ever experienced — 
that his mind had been shaken for some time past, and you, gentle- 
men, saw the attempt which was made to represent this evidence as 
the effect of intimidation and power. But no such thing appeared. 
He was threatened with confinement ; that was, for not signing his 
examination after he had made it He told you, he was acquitted 
upon the charge of perjury. This is further supported by evidence. 
He declined to make any objections in point of law, and he was 
questioned as to the conversation with Nailor, who is not produced to 
contradict what the witness said. In this light, Mr. Cockayne came 


forward, and though he could not take upon him to tell with what 
intention, Jackson came to Ireland, positively; the overt act laid 
with regard to Ireland, is that he came to procure an invasion. But 
if you believe the evidence of Cockayne, see the conduct of Jackson 
upon his coming here, and see from that, whether bis coming was not 
for the purpose imputed to him* The witness tells you, that upon 
their first coming to Ireland, the first conversation arose upon the 
politics of Ireland, and the dissatisfaction of part of the people in 
Ireland. He said that a person of the name of Lewins solicited 
credentials to shew Hamilton Rowan, to give him a confidence in 
holding communications with the prisoner. The witness told you, 
that Jackson expressed his concern at having given some of the 
papers for this purpose, and he wished to have them back again, as 
he would not trust them in the hands of others, if he had them back. 
He told yon that there was a meeting at Rowan's : he saw a relative 
of Rowan's there, who went away, after which Irish politics, and the 
United Irishmen were the subjects of conversation. I say, gentle- 
Men, and I am sorry for it, that there is not a single overt act in 
rapport of which there is not evidence for the consideration of a jury. 
He said there were conversations about sending some one to France, 
and that Tone agreed to go at one time, but receded at another. He 
talked also of Dr. Reynolds, and also of the propriety and impropriety 
of giving them instructions ; that the prisoner did not approve so 
much of Reynolds, as he did of Tone. 

[Here Mr. Prime- Serjeant was interrupted by the prisoner's 
counsel, who said they had now a witness of the name of Watson to 
impeach the character of Cockayne.] 

Mr. SouciTon-GrBinuAi* — My lords, in the absence of the 
Attorney-General* it is my duty to resist the examination of this 
witness. I cannot submit to such a precedent being established, and 
the more so as every proceeding in this trial, and the solemnity, will 
form a precedent for future cases. The witness they called to the 
net alleged, when they had stated their case for the prisoner, was 
Wttliam Humphries, who being called did not answer, and then they 
had just learned that he was gone to the Isle of Man. They did not 
call any other person— nor did they say that they had any witness of 
the name of Watson, which shows this attempt to be an after-thought 
—a thought fabricated after the counsel for the prisoner had spoken 
to evidence, and whilst the counsel for the crown were proceeding in 
reply. Whatever may be the humane disposition of the court, I trust 
that they will not dispense with that rule and order of proceeding 
which the wisdom of your venerable predecessors, the judges of 
England and Ireland, have made part of the law, wisely regulated 
far the investigation of truth, and a departure from which, under such 
circumstances, would lead to confusion, may be introductory of 
perjury, and subversive of truth. 

Lord Clonmbl. — I confess I think it is extremely irregular, and I 
tell you why. See what Mr. Curran, who stated the case, said — 
"The only evidence I shall produce will be a witness to contradict 

* Mr. Attorney-General had retired to take some refreshment, it being at this 
time near two o'clock on Friday i 


Cockayne" — that witness did not attend. However, where the life 
of a man is to be affected, I will go as far as I can in yielding to his 
desire, even against what I conceive to be the rule, particularly as 
my brothers are disposed to grant the indulgence. 

Mr. Curran. — My lord, I feel that it would not be a stretch of the 
rule to say, " Sir, you are precluded from giving further evidence* 
But I proposed to call the witness from a conviction that I would 
not do my duty without proposing to call him when it was mentioned 
to me. 

John Watson, sworn. — Examined by Mr. Curran. 

Q. Do you know John Cockayne ? A. I have seen Mr. Cockayne 
the attorney of London. 

Q. Do you know him ? A. I do — I see him now. 

Q. Did you know him in London ? A. I did, by his character, for 
near two years, while I was a licensed lottery man there. 

Q. You knew his character ? A. I have heard his character. 

Q. Was it a good one or a bad one ? A. I knew his character in 
his profession as an attorney, not his private character as a man. 

Mr. Justice Downes* — That might go to his being a good or a bad 

Q. Do you know his general character? A. I do as to his 

Q. Do you mean as to his morality and integrity ? A. There was 
neither morality nor integrity in it. 

Mr. Justice Downes. — His general character as an attorney is not 
the point in issue. 

Witness. — There was nothing in his practice that had morality or 
integrity — it appeared from his connections — he was , connected with 

[The Counsel for the Crown proposed to cross-examine this wit- 

Court. — We cannot permit it, because this man knowing nothing 
of the private character of the witness, he could not have known 
anything as to the material point to be enquired, whether the witness 
was to be believed upon his oath. What do you mean by his private 
character ? A. His private dealing, about which I know nothing. 

Q. How long have you been in this kingdom ? A. Twelve months. 

Q. How long since you gave any information about .this matter? 
A. I was in court, and a gentleman here having heard me mention 
Cockayne's name sometime ago, called me forward, I did not know 
for what purpose. 

The witness was ordered to retire. 

Mr. Prime- Serjeant continued. — Gentlemen, the first overt act 
is, that he came to Ireland to procure information of the king's 
subjects. The second is, that he endeavoured to incite an invasion— 
but it is irresistible as to the third, if you believe that the prisoner, 
on the 21st of April did excite, exhort, and counsel, and as far as in 
him lay, did encourage Theobald Wolfe Tone to go into parts beyond 
seas, to France, to represent to the ruling powers there, that divers 
subjects of this kingdom were disaffected, &c. Gentlemen, if your 
notes and mine differ upon this evidence, I beseech you to pay no 


attention to mine. But as I have taken it, the witness has heard 
alternately in conversations from Jackson, Rowan, Tone and Reynolds, 
that there was a scheme to send Tone or Reynolds, with a plan to 
Paris. That expressions of encouragements were used to Tone by 
the prisoner and Rowan. That the prisoner was present at some 
encouraging conversation by Rowan, and upon some conversations 
with Tone, who made objections on account of his family, and the 
loss that might accrue by missing opportunities in Ireland. Jackson 
told him, he would find the French a generous people. Was it 
necessary, gentleman, to have recourse to the French upon the subject 
of manufactures, or a law suit ? No, gentleman, it was a public 
measure, and the reward was to be public also. It appeared, gentle- 
men, in evidence that Jackson came into Ireland with a fictitious 
name, that of Thomas Popkins, which he used in his correspondence. 
It will be for you to discover, and ascertain for what purpsse the 
parties involved the matter in these obscurities. Why, in one letter 
the subject should be manufactures, and in the next, the subject 
should be law. The fourth and fifth overt acts are a conspiracy with 
others to procure a person to represent to the French, the dissatisfac- 
tion of part of the people, and to excite an invasion. With respect 
to these two overt acts, I think there is matter in the correspondence 
of Jackson, when particularly adverted to, for the jury, to consider 
whether there be proof of them or not. But, under the correction of 
the court, I say, that if a single overt act be proved, clearly connected 
with the treason with which the prisoner is charged, there is sufficient 
to warrant you to convict him. But I acknowledge that if on the 
other hand, you believe none of them are proved, the law and your 
conscience call upon you to acquit him. The sixth overt act is, that 
on the 21st of April a letter was written to William Stone to reveal 
his intention to send a person to France to represent the state of this 
country. The evidence of Cockayne was, that Tone agreed to go, 
and afterwards receded from that agreement. The letter was written 
on the 21st of April, and when he began, it was conceived that Tone 
was to go ; and in this letter are these remarkable words ; " Let them 
know where I am, and that I am doing everything I can to serve 
Mr. Nicholas, and that I am procuring a person to carry the covenants 
and leases ; — a few days will decide whether we go or not I have 
written the above during the negotiation with the person ; he has 
this morning 24th of April, decided that his private affairs will not 
let him go." If, gentlemen, you believe the evidence of Cockayne — 
if you believe that this letter was written — if you believe that this 
charge in the indictment is proved, you will consider whether it is 
connected with either or both of the treasons with which he is indicted. 
"I wish you would write the first post day, and tell Mr. Nicholas 
that to-morrow I send two letters for him, containing opinions 
thoroughly considered, and well digested by counsel here." This 
▼as begun on the 21st of April, and the letter appears to be concluded 
on the 24th when it was put into the office on that evening, containing 
the paper of the State of the kingdom, as appears from the evidence 
of De Joncourt. The seventh overt act is grounded upon the same 
evidence ; it is the same act laid to be by a person unknown : — if that 
alone had been proved,, and you are of opinion that it relates to the 


treason charged, it will warrant 70a to find him guilty. The letters 
were sent to the poet-office by Cockayne ; they were subscribed by 
the directions of the prisoner. They got into the hands of Jackson 
himself, and it was for him to account if they were put in by other 
means. The letter proved by Cockayne to have been in the hand- 
writing of Jackson, and found among the papers of Stone, requesting 
that the papers before left might not be made use of, shews that 
Jackson came to Ireland, having prefixed the correspondence with 
fictitious names. He forbids this afterwards. The ninth overt act is 
a letter written to Benjamin Beresford, requesting him "to inform 
certain persons," &c. " You are requested to see Madgett directly, and 
inform him that two letters, with the opinions of the greatest counsel," 
&c. That very night these two letters were intercepted in the office. 
On the morning of the next day Cockayne applied to Mr. Hamilton 
to know whether the letter &c. had been intercepted, and furnishes 
the original paper in the hand- writing of Jackson, from which the 
copy was made. Hamilton took a press copy of it, which being 
imperfect, it was objected to by the prisoner ; the copy was written 
in the prisoner's presence, and by his directions sent to the post-office. 
The eleventh overt act is, that he sent information to France. This, 
gentlemen, goes as well to the papers which were forwarded as the 
others which have been produced in evidence. Now, gentlemen, see 
whether any man living, of the most scrupulous and tender conscience, 
can hesitate to pronounce what the object and motive of such papers 
were. Look at the words expressing the situation of Ireland, and 
inviting " an invasion in sufficient force." Here is nothing of trade 
or manufactures ; nothing of law suits or covenants or leases. If yon 
believe that this was written by the procurement of Jackson, to be 
forwarded by his procurement as Cockayne has sworn, to the French 
people, that generous people, who were to support the Irish nation- 
Mr. Jackson. — I beg Mr. Prime-Serjeants pardon, there is no 
evidence that the paper was to be forwarded. 

Mr. Prime- Serjeant. — I beseech the prisoner at the bar, if I 
have mistated, even to his feeling, what the case will not warrant, to 
apprize me of it, and I will retract it, with more satisfaction than any 
assertion I ever made in my life. I intended to say, that if the jury 
believe it was written by the procurement of the prisoner, and 
intended to be forwarded though intercepted, the crime in point of 
law is consummate. 

Mr. Jackson. — The indictment states, that the letter was to be 
sent to Benjamin Beresford. There is no such thing upon the super- 

Mr. Prime- Serjeant. — The tenth overt act does not state it, but 
the ninth does state that the letter was to be sent to Benjamin 
Beresford — the letter in evidence a Monsieur Beresford. It is matter 
for the jury to consider whether the evidence proves the charge in 
the indictment If the jury believe that this letter was in the custody 
of Jackson and written for the purpose imputed to him, it is a new 
overt act. I agree with the gentlemen concerned for the prisoner 
that the evidence of Cockayne, under the particular circumstances 
under which it comes forward, does come so infected as not to 
have that weight, which it would have if those circumstances did 


not exist* Bat I say his testimony is corroborated by such a variety 
of circumstances as establish the truth of it No person is brought 
forward to disprove the hand-writing of Jackson, as proved by 
Cockayne. With respect to Mr. Tone, it will be a subject for your 
consideration, gentlemen, whether it was competent for the gentlemen 
concerned for the prisoner to produce him* If he had been produced 
by the Crown, he might very well object and say, " I will not accuse 
myself.* 9 They had notice by the indictment that his testimony might 
be materially, and could have come prepared. If there be weight in 
these observations your lordships and the jury will give them a pro- 
portionate attention — if there be not, you will throw them out of your 

Gentlemen, I feel a degree of satisfaction in my mind, arising from 
this circumstance, that I am not conscious of having made an obser- 
vation which the case will not warrant Gentlemen, if you believe 
the evidence, you have a duty to discharge to yourselves, your 
country, and your God ; and if you do not believe it, your duty is to 
acquit the prisoner. If you have such a doubt, not such as womanish 
fears may suggest, but such as your sober judgment may, you will 
give it due consideration and lean to the side of mercy. I am sure 
the world will be satisfied with your verdict after you have given the 
ease such consideration. 

Mr. Jackson. — I feel a weight upon my mind to make an obser- 
vation or two upon what Mr. Prime* Serjeant has said upon the 
superscription of the letter to Monsieur Beresford. One was directed 
to Basle in Switzerland, a neutral power ; and another was directed 
to Amsterdam, which at that time was at war with France. The 
places to which the letters were directed, were either neutral places, 
or at war with France: — the letters were not sent to enemies of 
England* There is nothing but constructive evidence that these 
papers were intended for the enemies of Ireland. This, my lords, is 
all I have to say. 

Lord Clonmsl, Chief-Justice* — Gentlemen of the jury, in this case 
of the King against William Jackson, clerk, the indictment against 
the prisoner is founded on the statute of treasons, 25 Ed. III. chap 2. 
a statute that has been considered as one of the greatest protections 
to the subject that ever passed ; as stating and precisely ascertaining 
what shall be treason to affect the life of the subject, to prevent any 
unascertained crime of that nature from affecting him. The two 
branches of treason comprehended in this indictment are, the compassing 
the death of the King, and adhering to the King's enemies. I would 
now mention a principle or two that have never been doubted ; one 
is, that a* conspiracy to levy war against the King or his government, 
is evidence of compassing the death of the King. This is mentioned 
in the works of aU the great crown lawyers ; in 4 BL Comm. 82. 
3 Inst 9l Foster's Cr. L. 212, 213. You will understand me when 
I say, that evidence of conspiracy to levy war against the King or his 
government, is evidence of compassing the King's death; and the 
reason justifies the principle ; for the result of such a conspiracy is 
probably the King's destruction, either by his death or his impri- 
sonment, which may lead to his death ; and for that reason it is 
applicable as evidence of compassing the King's death. Again— 


another principle is, that giving intelligence to the King's enemies is 
evidence of the second branch of this indictment, the adhering to the 
King's enemies. This is a clear and simple species of high treason ; 
each part of the indictment charges a clear high treason, not con- 
structive nor involved. It has been fortunate in this country, though 
it may make the difficulty the greater on the judges at present, that 
there is scarcely an instance in the recollection of the oldest lawyer, 
of that crime having been committed in this kingdom, and a prose- 
cution for it ; but a case has been determined in the Court of King's 
Bench in England, in the year 1758, resembling the present in many 
instances. The King against Dr. Hensey,* who was convicted of 
high treason and judgment of death pronounced on him ; in that case, 
Lord Mansfield, with the concurrence of his brethern followed by 
Foster, and as able assistants as the Chief-Justice had at any time, 
lays down the law thus — " Levying war, is an overt act of compassing 
the death of the King. An overt act of the intention of levying war 
or of bringing war upon the kingdom," (and those words are very 
material) " is settled to be an overt act of compassing the King's 
death. Soliciting a foreign prince even in amity with the Crown, to 
invade the realm is such an overt act. And so was Cardinal Pole's 
case. And one of these letters is such a solicitation of a foreign prince 
to invade the realm. Letters of advice and correspondence, and 
intelligence to the enemy to enable them to annoy us or defend them- 
selves, written and sent in order to be delivered to the enemy, are, 
though intercepted, overt acts of both these species of treason that 
have been mentioned ; and this was determined by all the Judges of 
England in Gregg's case : where the indictment (which I have seen) 
is much like the present indictment. The only doubt there arose 
from the letters of intelligence being intercepted and never delivered ; 
but they held that that circumstance did not alter the case." And, 
gentlemen, to justify that doctrine, one obvious reason must occur to 
all your minds; that no person could be indicted with effect for 
sending letters, if the law was that they must have gone to the place 
for which they were intended ; because in that case they could not 
possibly be laid hold of for the purposes of prosecution ; it would be 
grossly absurd. Another paragraph in that case I will read to yon 
as bearing on the facts in this case. " As to the fact in the present 
case — the jury are to consider whether they were written by the 
prisoner at the bar, in order to be delivered to the enemy,* and with 
intent to convey to the enemy such intelligence as might serve and 
assist them in carrying on war against this Crown, or in avoiding the 
destinations of our enterprizes and armaments against them." I think 
I have now laid down certain principles and clear positions in your 
minds as far as I have gone, which will go a great way in directing 
you in the consideration of this case ; I will now state to you how 
this indictment is laid, and go through the different overt acts stated 
to support the intention ; for that intention, if supported by the acts 
stated on any of them, will complete the crime against the prisoner ; 
any one of them, if you believe the intention, and the overt act 
to be proved, will complete the charge against him. I shall endeavour, 

* 1 Burr, 642. 


feeling great difficulty from my own inability at this late hour of 
the night, to collect the facts in the best order for your consideration ; 
it will be your verdict, and not the verdict of the Court ; we are 
responsible for the law, it is our duty to state the law, and I have 
laid down principles from great authority ; I shall only add to them, 
that by the common law of both countries, one witness alone is sufficient 
in these cases : if you believe that witness, and if he swears to the 
facts that are laid, and if they are sufficiently stated to be the acts of 
the prisoner in support of the intention charged, it is the opinion of 
the court, that by the common law a second is not necessary, and no 
statute on the subject to contradict that, exists in this country ; and 
here, let me say how the law appears to be in that case ; it was not 
only the opinion of Judge Foster, one of the most honest and greatest 
lawyers that England ever knew, and who ranks with Lord Hale ; 
but also, as appears from his Crown Law, p. 233, it was the general 
opinion, that at common law, one witness was sufficient in the case of 
treason, notwithstanding Lord Coke's opinion to the contrary : the 
opinion of Judge Foster is the same with Serjeant Hawkins, and 
though Hawkins is only a compiler, and states many doubts, yet he 
is certainly one of the most faithful and laborious compilers that we 
have. Let me now state the facts from the words of the indictment. 
William Jackson is charged, for that, at a time when open war existed 
between France and England — of which Foster says, that public 
notoriety is sufficient evidence — he did, knowing the premises, but 
contriving the tranquillity of the kingdom to disquiet, the government 
to subvert, and the King of and from the crown to depose and deprive, 
and to death and final destruction to bring and put ; did on the 3d 
day of April, in the 34th year of the King &c. at the parish of St. 
Andrew &c traitorously compass, imagine, and intend the King, of 
and from the crown of Ireland, to depose and wholly deprive, and the 
King to kill, and bring and put to death. This is the general charge ; 
that he imagined and compassed the king's death, and at that time 
and under those circumstances ; and then in the first count, different 
means are stated : first, that he landed in Ireland, for the purpose 
of procuring information concerning the situation and disposition 
of the King's subjects, now as to the dispostion of the King's sub- 
jects, that part of the charge will be more in your mind when 
you come to consider what I shall lay great stress on, the state oj 
the nation that was sent over. It is next laid, that the prisoner at 
the bar, did consult to levy war in the kingdom of Ireland, against 
the King : and if it be proved to your satisfaction, that he did conspire 
to levy war, and to invite the French power to invade this kingdom ; 
it is evidence in support of this count. It is next laid, that the pri- 
soner did incite and endeavour to persuade one Theobald Wolfe Tone, 
to go into foreign parts to represent to the French powers that divers 
subjects of Ireland were dissatisfied with the government, and to 
persuade them to invade Ireland ; this also will be applicable to part 
of that statement which I shall have occasion to dwell on hereafter. 
The next act laid is, that the prisoner conspired with other persons 
to procure and provide a person to go beyond the seas — it is to the 
same purpose, but more general than the former, which applied to 
Theobald Wolfe Tone only. Next, that he did conspire with others, 

26& TfclAL OF 

to send a person to France to give information of the state of Ireland 
— and this also is evidence, if proved, of compassing the King's death. 
It is next charged that he did compose and write, and cause to be 
written, a letter to William Stone in England, and did by that letter 
instruct him to disclose to the persons having the powers of govern- 
ment in Franoe, a scheme of the prisoner's to send a person to France 
to satisfy said persons of divers subjects of Ireland being ready to 
negotiate with them, for an invasion of Ireland, but that the private 
affairs of such person would not permit him to go, and therefore that 
the prisoner would send a statement of the situation and dispositions 
of the people of Ireland — this is evidence also of compassing the death 
of the King. The next act laid is to the same effect of the last, but 
put more generally, and this and all that I have mentioned, go in 
support of the first count. The next charge is that the prisoner 
delivered and caused to be delivered the said letters into the post- 
office here ; and if this be proved it falls under that head described by 
Lord Mansfield in Hensey's case, and that act would be sufficient to 
make him guilty of compassing the Bang's death. The two next 
overt acts laid are, the writing a letter to Benjamin Beresford, and 
the delivering that letter into the post-office. It is next laid, that the 
prisoner composed and wrote, and caused to be written divers instruc- 
tions, inviting the King's enemies to invade Ireland — and this seems 
to me very material for your consideration : it is stated that among 
other things the following particulars are contained, " that the Dis- 
senters are steady republicans." — (I will not repeat this paper, as you 
have already heard it more than once.) The next charge is, that the 
prisoner wrote several other accounts and instructions concerning the 
people of Ireland, and all these accounts caused to be delivered into 
the post-office. And, in the next charge, those words which I have 
stated are again repeated. These are the charges, all of which are 
applicable to the first count ; and if any of them are substantially 
proved, and you believe it, it will lead you to find the prisoner guilty. 
These charges are applied to the second branch of the indictment, 
and support it, as well as the first, if proved. I shall now take up 
the evidence in the order it was laid before you, and it will be for you 
to see whether the intentions, the purposes and the acts proved, be 
the intentions, the purposes, and the acts of the prisoner Jackson. 
Any one of the charges, if proved, will support either branch of the 
indictment, and I shall make such observations as occur to me from 
time to time. John Cockayne was first produced — he swears that he 
has known the prisoner Jackson ten years ; it has been said that it 
appeared from Cockayne that Jackson came hither to furnish some 
provisions for the French, and not with any treasonable design — but 
Cockayne's evidence was, that when he came over, he did not think 
Jackson would put himself into his present situation, or that he should 
ever be a witness against him, which he swears he is very sorry for, 
if you believe him. They dined, he says, at Counsellor M'Nally's ; 
Counsellor Simon Butler dined there ; the conversation turned on 
politics at large, those of the day, and those of the Irish nation ; it 
went to the dissatisfaction of some part of the kingdom — now that 
may be material, if you believe the witness, when you come to con- 
sider the state of the nation, when the dissatisfaction of the King's 


subjects is mentioned. The witness then says that he saw Mr. Lewins 
at Hyde's coflee-house, that he asked Jackson for some papers to 
deliver to Mr. Rowan, to convince him that he was a man with whom 
he might converse with confidence ; on this part of the evidence, one 
observation arises ; as soon as these men came into this country, if 
yon believe Cockayne, Jackson furnishes Lewins with certain docu- 
ments, in order to convince Rowan that he was a man to be confiden- 
tially spoken with — of what were they to speak ? why was he to 
converse with Rowan, a prisoner in Newgate ? — and these were such 
papers too, that Jackson said that if he had had them back, he would 
not have entrusted them to Lewins again — these papers were asked 
by Lewins with that view, but whether the prisoner gave them with 
that view, is a conclusion for you to draw ; this passed a few days 
after Jackson's arrival here* The witness and Jackson went together 
to Newgate soon after — the conversation turned on Irish affairs — on 
the United Irishmen — on some dissatisfactions among the people in 
some parts of the kingdom ; it does not appear that any part of that 
conversation was about manufactures and lawsuits, the topics alluded 
to in some of Jackson's letters-— it was a political conversation — I am 
not saying that it was not possible such a thing might exist — far from 
it — there may have been such things as lawsuits and differences in 
Jackson's family, and Rowan not know a word of the matter. There 
was another meeting — there, Tone read a paper but the witness did 
not hear it ; there was something about a plan to send Tone to France, 
and, if you believe the witness, Jackson approved of Tone for the 
purpose, more than of Reynolds ; this supports what he said about the 
plan of sending a person to France : the witness said they were to go 
with some papers— with written instructions for the French ; that he 
heard this alternately spoken of by Jackson, Rowan, &c. and that he 
understood it was to Paris that they were to be sent. 

On this letter (No. 2) marked with a large cross, and contained 
within two covers, in each of which there was a recommendation to 
forward the enclosed ; I will make one observation ; I wish not to 
dictate ; I wish to raise in your minds sentiments that will lead you 
to the truth ; it was said with good sense by the prisoner at the bar, 
that there is no evidence that these papers were to go to the French ; 
but see what was the recommendation in each of the covers — it was, 
" to forward the inclosed ;" the paper was not to rest there ; this is 
material for your consideration, that is, if you believe the paper to be 
the hand-writing of Jackson. Cockayne next proved his own hand- 
writing to the letter marked A, No. 3. That this copy was sent to 
the post-office by the prisoner's directions, and that Mr. Hamilton 
took a press copy of the original ; it is directed A Monsieur Beresford, 
Basle, Switzerland, and dated Dublin 24th April ; it will be for you 
to judge whether it means really and bond fide a lawsuit, or whether 
the language is not intended to convey other things— of what is 
alleged in the overt acts laid — " collecting what is now sent as a real 
ease in point,'' this is incorrectly expressed, if it is a law matter that 
is meant — however, the prisoner is no lawyer. " By hostile or pacific 
means" — that may be meant of a lawsuit ; Jackson is a clergyman ; 
he is not a lawyer. The letter is signed " Thomas Popkins," this 
furnishes a circumstance for your consideration, if you believe 


Cockayne ; Jackson has shewn no necessity why he should change 
his name in this country while conducting a lawsuit for a friend 
abroad: Cockayne swears that this was a copy from a paper in Jack- 
son's hand- writing ; look at the date, it is the 24th April, and compare 
it with the day when the statement of the nation was put into the 
post-office. The next letter is No. 4, B. it is in the prisoner's hand, 
but the superscription is written by the witness, by the prisoner's 
direction ; it is for you to consider what all this mystery means ; the 
inside directed to one person — the outside to another 

Mr. Jackson. — My lord, there is really no mystery in the case ; 
Mr. Stone had a house at Oldford, all letters to him there were 
directed in his own name ; all letters to him in London, were by his 
directions to be sent to the house of Lawrence and Co. — now, may I 
make one observation as to the other letter, which your lordship seems 
to think was something enigmatical. 

Lord Clonmel. — No ; — do not think that I say so. 

Mr. Jackson. — That letter has a postscript mentioning something 
about the birth of a child ; your lordship left it to the jury to enquire 
whether it alluded to a band fide transaction or not : no, my Lord — 
that lady had been separated from her husband for several years ; she 
had a child during that separation, and I believe the father did not 
know the sex of the child ; for some reason best known to themselves, 
they never corresponded. As explanatory of the lawsuit — My lord, 
it is well known that Mr. Beresford was married to the sister of 
Archibald Hamilton Rowan, and conceiving himself entitled to a 
fortune on the death of Mrs. Hamilton, the mother of Mr. Rowan, in 
right of his wife, requested of me to make enquiries about it, particu- 
larly as he had written to the executors and reprentatives of Mrs. 
Hamilton, and never could obtain an answer. 

Lord Clonmel. — Gentlemen, you have heard Mr. Jackson ; I wish, 
if what he has said can be of any use, that there had been evidence of 
it This letter will also be for your consideration, whether it be 
written band fide — whether the opinions mentioned be legal opinions. 
No. 5, C. is enclosed within two covers directed in witness Cockayne's 
hand — [the Clerk of the Crown read this paper by his lordship's 
order.] No. 6, is a duplicate of No. 5, the witness told you it is by 
desire of Jackson all in his, the witness's, hand-writing. Mr. De 
Joncourt proved that he had orders to intercept these letters, and that 
he did so ; he found them on the 24th April, and gave them to Mr. 

Cockayne was then cross-examined ; but before I come to that, I 
shall make one observation on his direct examination: he swears 
he directed these letters by Jackson's desire ; you see what they were 
— they were transcripts ; they corresponded with the papers found on 
Mr. Jackson's table in his lodgings, which was evidence of his posses- 
sion ; I say, then, as to these papers, of which there appears to have 
been four, if you believe that two of them were sent by the direction 
of the prisoner at the bar — that he knew their contents, and that he 
sent them into foreign parts for the purposes stated in the indictment 
— I have no hesitation in saying (and I believe my brothers entirely 
agree with me, — if they do, they will say so, or qualify their opinions 
as they may think proper) that they are treasonable to all intents 


and purposes, as tending to invite a foreign enemy into this kingdom. 
If you believe that to have been the intention of the prisoner at the 
bar, you ought to find him guilty. 

Now, as to the objections arising on the cross-examination of 
Cockayne. He was examined as to his credit, that he was a man not 
to be believed upon his oath : he stated the circumstances of the 
indictment and prosecution for perjury: you heard the account he 
gave of it, and you are the proper judges of his credit. 

There were two papers found in the prisoner's possession, in his 
chambers by Carleton, agreeing with the papers sent to the post-office 
by his directions. If you believe they were put into the post-office by 
his directions, you ought to find him guilty. It is then suggested 
by his counsel, that they were put into the office by Cockayne, and 
he knew they were to be intercepted. I gave an answer to that 
early : — it was not from the knowledge, or intention of Cockayne, 
that you are to judge, but from the knowledge or intention of Jackson 
himself. The question is, whether you believe that they were sent 
to the post-office by Jackson, with the intention I have described. 
But if you believe, either that Jackson did not know the contents of 
the letters, or that he did not send them, or that they were not directed 
by his advice or request — if you believe, which is within possibility, 
that this was all a scheme and a plan of Cockayne to bring the 
prisoner into this situation, then you ought to acquit him. It is 
possible that Cockayne might have contrived this scheme, abominable 
as it would be, to entrap Jackson, for some bad or wicked purpose, 
to take away Jackson's life, and might have written the body and 
superscriptions of the papers for that purpose. If you believe that, 
you can have no hesitation in acquitting Jackson. And if your 
minds are suspended in such a degree of doubt, that you cannot, 
balancing one supposition with another, satisfy yourself, you will 
according to the benignity of the law, lean in favour of life, and 
acquit the prisoner. 

Mr. Jackson. — My lord, will your lordship give me leave to men- 
tion another thing ? 

Lord Clonmel. — Yes, go on. 

Mr. Jackson. — There is another thing within the power of possi- 
bility — that is, that supposing the fact to be as Cockayne has stated, 
it is within the power of possibility, that one letter, which prima facie 
was to go to Amsterdam, then at war with France ; and the other to 
Hamburgh, a neutral power. There is a possibility that they were 
not to go any farther than those places ; for there is no evidence that 
they were to be sent to France. 

Lord Clonmei* — I thought I had stated it more favourably for 
you than you do for yourself. I stated, that the jury must believe, 
that these letters were to go further, and were to be delivered to 
French persons, for the purpose of exciting them to invade this 

Mr. Jackson. — There is another circumstance I must mention. I 
am afraid I shall tire your lordship. 

Lord Clonmel. — No, sir, go on : — nothing can tire me upon this 

Mr. Jackson. — There is a circumstance which has been stated to 


be very material ; the cross on the inside envelope of these two letters. 
Now, it is usual, in the greatest mercantile houses on the continent, 
at Hamburgh and other places, where letters are intended not to be 
opened by the clerks, but by the principals only, to mark them with a 
cross, and other symbols, to denote such intention. 

Lord Clonmei* — Of that there is no evidence. The jury will 
make their observation upon what you have said. The next evidence 
was Sackville Hamilton. (His lordship then recapitulated Mr. 
Hamilton's testimony, and that of the other witnesses ; on his observing 
on parts of the letter B, No. 1, particularly the words — " I am glad 
to find that the patterns I sent have reached the persons for whom 
they were intended. The state of manufactures in England which 
your friend drew out is very just.") 

Mr. Jackson. — There is not anything surprising that a person 
corresponding with Stone, should correspond on matters of trade and 
manufactures ; he is extremely eminent in that way ; in particular, 
he has lately constructed a very large stamp engine. 

(On Lord Clonmei/s making further observation on the signature 
of Thomas Popkins.) 

Mr. Jackson. — I think I can easily explain that I left England 
some years ago, and became involved in difficulties which were not 
over when I returned — I applied to Mr. Cockayne to arrange my 
affairs ; in the meantime, I lived in obscurity, and in order to conceal 
myself the more effectually, I begged that any letter to me might be 
directed under the name of Thomas Popkins ; but when I came to 
this country, not being apprehensive of any personal danger, I went 
by my own name ; and I was a man of as much publicity as any in 
town. Another thing — there is no proof that I ever was employed 
by France ; if I was, and if they were such a generous and brave 
people, as I am supposed to have represented them, they would at 
least have paid my debts ; yet I was under pecuniary difficulties — 
now, for a man to come here and attempt an invasion, and yet not 
have money to pay his debts, is to me as great a mystery as any that 
has come out in this business. 

Lord Clonmel. — I wish the jury to attend to Mr. Jackson's obser- 
vations on the facts ; but they cannot attend to his assertion of facts 
which are not in proof. (His lordship then proceeded) — Here the 
prosecution was rested. Mr. Curran, who stated the prisoner's case, 
and observed upon the evidence, did give a promise to the court, that 
a witness would be examined to contradict Cockayne. No such 
witness is produced: — No witness was produced by the prisoner. 
The counsel stated their objections in point of law, and after they had 
gone through their observations, and the Prime- Serjeant had gone 
half through in reply, they offered a witness to discredit Cockayne ; 
and to be sure, if he were discredited, there is nothing in the case. 
I have no hesitation in saying, that if you do not believe him upon his 
oath, you ought to acquit the prisoner. But the witness produced 
knew nothing pertinent to the subject ; he knew nothing of his private 
character, or anything beyond his practice as an attorney. I would 
rather let any further observations come from my brethren. However 
there are some which strike me as necessary to be made. It was 
said, that the prosecutor should have produced Tone. The Prime- 


Serjeant answered that — the prisoner might have produced him. 
Hie papers sent up to you go by consent. It was objected, that two 
witnesses were not produced to the same overt act, or one to one 
overt act, and a second to another. I have given you my opinion as 
to that. My brothers will give you theirs — I think by the common 
law of this kingdom, two witnesses are not necessary. The next 
objection was to shew that Cockayne was a person not to be believed 
upon his oath, and they endeavoured to blacken him by shewing what 
they oalled the baseness of his conduct, being the attorney and friend 
of the prisoner. To that it may be answered, I do not say it is the 
ease, that he was more likely to know the circumstances. There does 
not appear to have been any grudge or quarrel between them : — but 
however the case depends so much upon the credit of Cockayne that 
unless you do believe him, you ought to acquit the prisoner. I wish 
not to go further into the evidence as to what Carleton said, making 
a second witness, being of opinion that a second witness is not neces- 
sary. Yon, gentlemen, will consider the whole case, both upon all 
the evidence which has been given and all the papers, which will be 
sent up to you. I do not wish to say much in the way of observation ; 
—however it is my duty to say something as it rose upon my mind. 
It is somewhat remarkable that Jackson did not produce witnesses. 
He was arrested in April 1794. He has had the same opportunity of 
preparing for his defence as every other prisoner, and no person has 
been produced. 

Mr. Jackson. — My lord, the last time the trial was to come on, the 
Crown put it off on account of the absence of Cockayne. I had two 
witnesses then ; William Humfries and George Dodwell. The former 
is an ensign in the city of Dublin regiment, who could have disproved 
the declaration of Cockayne, stated by Air. Curran. Mr. Humfries 
has been in the Isle of Man. If your lordship would hear my agent, 
he would throw light upon the transaction. 

Lord Clonmbl. — I would wish to do as much as possible for you ; 
but I cannot strain the law. What witness would you examine ? 

Mr. Jackson. — I had desired my counsel to examine my agent. I 
would examine my agent. I would examine him now to prove, that 
Cockayne said he had papers of mine in the morning of my arrest, 
which he denied upon the table here. 

The Counsel for the Crown stated that Cockayne had left court, 
H being at this time past three in the morning, and could not now be 
confronted with any witness produced. 

Lord Clonmel. — It is irregular to examine this witness, who has 
been in court during the whole trial, and heard Mr. Cockayne give 
his testimony. If this man could have contradicted that witness he 
ought then to have mentioned it. However examine him. 

Edward Crookshank Keane, sworn. — Examined by Mr. Cubban. 

Q. Had you any conversation with Cockayne touching any paper 
found upon the table in Mr. Jackson's room ? A. I had ; the day I 
was employed by Mr. Jackson Mr. Cockayne called upon me, and 
said it was rather lucky that the papers found in Jackson's room, were 
found there. He said he was the friend of Mr. Jackson, and wished 
to give evidence, — he dined at my house for that purpose. He said 


he had these papers a long time before the arrest : — he had them till 
twelve o'clock the night before the arrest, and that night he put them 
in the room where Mr. Jackson slept. I mentioned this to the coun- 
sel, but did not wish to appear as a witness, and would not now but 
for the earnest desire of the prisoner. 

Cross-examined by the Solicitor-General. 

Q. You called a witness of the name of Humfries ? A. I did. 

Q. Did you not know, that Humfries was gone to the Isle of Man, 
at the time you called him ? A. If you press me for my belief, I 
beHve he was, but he was summoned ; I saw him at the Quarter 
Assembly ; he was served with the summons last Tuesday, and at 
that time I understood he was not gone. 

Q. You heard the examination of Cockayne ? A. I did. 

Q. It was not till a considerable time after, that he was called upon 
to be examined to the fact, which you contradict? A. I recollect 
that very well ; but it was owing to what Mr. Carleton said relative 
to some of the papers. 

Q. Where is Theobald Wolfe Tone ? A. I do not know. 

Q- Do you not believe he is within reach of the process of the 
court ? Where is he ? A. I believe he is not in Dublin. 

Q. Did you converse with him ? A. I never saw him more than 
three or four times. 

Q. Did you know Hamilton Rowan? A. I did. 

Q- Did he not escape immediately after Mr. Jackson was arrested? 
A. I do not know the exact time ; I believe it was the 1st of May. 

Q- Did you not hear the whole examination of Cockayne ? A 
Not the whole, for I was going back and forward. 

Q. Did you not hear him say, that he had a letter of Jackson's in 
his possession ? A. He did. 

Q. Where is Mr. Lewins ? A. I believe he is in England ; he is 
gone there about some business of his uncle, Mr. Braughall ; I believe 
the crown might have had his attendance and Mr. Tone's too : but I 
have heard there was a compromise with Mr. Tone by government 
that he was not to be prosecuted. 

Q. From whom did you hear it ? A. I am not at liberty to mention. 
I first heard it upon a consultation of barristers, respecting Mr. 
Jackson's business ; but I heard it in such a manner, that I believe it 

Q- By virtue of your oath, do you believe that is the reason he is 
not prosecuted ? A. I do believe it 

Q. When did Lewins go to England ? A. Near a month ago. 

Q. Is he not your apprentice ? A. Yes. 

Q. Did you not know from the indictment that Tone was a material 
witness ? A. I cannot say to that 

Q. Don't you believe that there were meetings at Newgate between 
the prisoner, H. Rowan, Tone, and others, which have been stated by 
Cockayne ? A. I believe they had some meetings. 

Lord Clonmel. — This is not perfectly regular. The agent is not 
usually received as a witness for his client in such a situation as the 
present prisoner, and nothing but that sort of leaning for the accused 
in such a situation could induce me to submit We have been going 
too far. 


Mr. Justice Downes. — Gentlemen of the jury — I agree with my 
lord on the law of this case, and after the full statement which you 
have heard, I shall not trouble you with any observations on the 

Mr. Justice Chamberlains. — I am perfectly of the same opinion 
with my Lord Clonmel, on the law of this case ; and in particular, I 
agree that two witnesses are not necessary to prove an overt act of 
high treason in Ireland — they are necessary in England by force of 
an act of parliament, which never was enacted in this kingdom. 
Cockayne is certainly the only witness to prove the most material 
facts in this case ; but it is most essential that you shall consider 
whether his evidence is or is not confirmed by the papers which have 
been read, one of which, it is true, has been sworn by Cockayne 
alone to be the hand- writing of the prisoner, but two others have been 
sworn by another witness, Mr. Carleton, to have been found on the 
table of the prisoner at his bed side, at the time he was taken* If 
you believe that those two papers, purporting to be a statement of the 
affairs of this kingdom, were found in the possession of the prisoner, 
then you are to consider whether the fact of two precise counterparts 
thereof being found in the post-office (as Mr. De Joncourt has sworn) 
does or does not confirm what Cockayne has sworn, as to this material 
part of the case, viz. That those papers so found in the post-office 
were written by the direction of the prisoner, with a declared inten- 
tion that they should be put into the post-office. But in considering 
the overt act in proof of which two papers so found in the post-office 
have been read, ^it is of the essence of the case that you shall be 
satisfied that this statement of the situation of affairs in Ireland not 
only was sent, or put into the post-office by the directions of Jackson, 
but that his intent therein was, that that statement should be delivered 
to the governing powers in France, as is charged by the indictment. 
The prisoner has observed that one copy was directed to Amsterdam, 
in a country then at war with France, another to Hamburgh (a 
neutral port,) and therefore you will consider whether those state- 
ments were intended merely as information to the persons to whom 
they are addressed at those places, or whether they were to go further 
— and in this part of the case it is fit that you should consider the 
paper containing the directions, sworn by Cockayne to be in the hand- 
writing of the prisoner, and by another witness to have been found 
in the possession of Stone, who is sworn to have been Jackson's 
correspondent. And in determining upon the intent of the prisoner 
in putting or causing those two statements of the affairs of Ireland to 
be put into the post-office (if you believe he did so), it is material to 
consider part of Cockayne's evidence. You will recollect the conver- 
sation of the prisoner with Mr. Hamilton Rowan and Tone at 
Newgate, about sending Tone with written instructions to be conveyed 
to Paris — what those instructions were, Cockayne could not tell, 
although he had seen the paper containing them. He told you that 
Tone at first agreed to go, but that he afterwards retracted, giving 
certain reasons, whereupon Cockayne told you, that the prisoner gave 
encouragement to Doctor Reynolds to go, but that the result was, 
that neither went. And you will consider whether it is or is not to 
be reasonably inferred that the instructions spoken of by those persons 



at Newgate, were the same with those that were found (according to 
the evidence) in a few days after in the post-office — precise counter* 
parts whereof, are sworn by Mr. Oliver Carleton to have been found 
on the prisoner's table, at the time when he was apprehended — then 
you will consider whether upon finding, that neither Tone, nor 
Keynolds would go upon this mission, the prisoner resorted to the 
post-office, and took that method of sending the instructions. It was 
remarked by the prisoner himself, that of the two places, to which 
the papers containing " a statement of Irish affairs," were directed, 
one was at war with France, and the other a neutral port. And I 
agree that if you are not satisfied, that those instructions were 
intended to be forwarded from one of those places to those who 
possessed the government of France at that time, you cannot make 
anything of this, the most material overt act that is charged by this 

At a quarter before four o'clock on Friday morning, the jury 
retired, and after being enclosed about half an hour, returned with a 
verdict of GUILTY. 

Foreman. — My lord, I am directed by the jury to recommend the 
prisoner to mercy, from his years and situation in life. 

The Court. — Have you any doubts in your minds with respect to 
the evidence ? 

Foreman. — Not the least 

The prisoner was then remanded, and the court saying, that four 
days must intervene, before judgment could be pronounced, he was 
ordered to be brought up on Thursday, April 30th. 

Thursday, April 30, 1795. 

This day Mr. Jackson was brought up for judgment. 

Clerk of the Crown. — Gaoler, set the Rev. William Jackson to 
the bar. 

Hold up your right hand. 

Mr. Jackson accordingly held up his right hand. 

Then the Clerk of the Crown proceeded to read the indictment 

Mr. M'Nally. — My lords, Mr. Curran is not yet come, but any 
gentleman, as amicus curia may suggest to the court It is so ruled. 
It is Mr. Curran's wish that the caption may be read, as well as the 
other parts of the indictment It is Mr. Curran's wish it should be 
read, it is not a suggestion of mine. 

Lord Clonmel. — From the prisoner's apparent ill state of health, 
if any advantage is to be taken from reading the indictment, I should 
be glad it may be read through. But seeing his ill state of health, 
I would not wish to encrease his labour by waiting. But do as you 

Mr. M'Nally. — My lord, let the clerk of the crown read three or 
four lines. 

Court. — Do so. 

Mr. M'Naixy. — My lords, by the statute of Geo. EL in this country, 
founded on the statutes of Wm. and Anne in England, regulating trials 
of high treason, the prisoner charged with that offence is entiled to 
a copy of the indictment It has been ruled that that includes the 
caption, and it is also ruled, that if the prisoner does not avail himself 


of the objection previous to the plea pleaded, he loses the benefit of 
it Now, my lords, this gentleman was served with a copy of the 
indictment in the usual time, but there was no caption annexed to the 
copy that was served on him, but as it has not been usual in cases of 
felony to make up the caption till after the conviction, it is possible, 
that there may not be any caption in this indictment. I wish Mr. 
Jackson may be convinced whether there is any caption on the record 
or not If there had been such, in a former stage of the prosecution, 
the smallest variance between that and the indictment would be a 
good ground of objection. It is the prisoner's wish to see that the 
caption is on the record. 

Lord Clonmel. — I see nothing in the objection. You should have 
had a copy of the whole record if you had applied before. 

Clerk of the Crown. — The record is not made up, and the 
caption not being part of the indictment, does not appear until the 
indictment is put upon the record. 

Lord Clow mel. — As you are circumstanced, you cannot take 
advantage of it 

Mr. M'Nally. — The prisoner then demands to know whether 
there be a caption on the record. 

Lord Clonmel. — I wish the counsel assigned Mr. Jackson would 

Mr. M'Nally. — I wish so too, my lord, for feeling as I do at 
present, I am little able to go on. 

[The court waiting some time for the counsel for the crown, Mr. 
Curran came in, in the interval/) 

Lord Clonmel. — If there be nobody to pray judgment on this 
man he must be remanded. 

Mr. Curran. — My lords, I conceive that if the prisoner thinks 
he has reason to make any motion in arrest of judgment, that this is 
the time. 

Lord Clonmel. — The first step in such a business is for the 
Attorney or Solicitor-General, or some other of the King's servants 
to pray judgment on the person who is called up : that was the case 
of Dr. Hensey, and several other cases in the state trials. 

Mr. Curran. — I speak not of the gentlemen conducting the 
prosecution ; I speak merely as between the prisoner, the court and 
the record ; I only mean that whenever it shall be the pleasure of the 
court to go into this business, everything shall continue in the same 
situation ; that there shall be no alteration in the record. 

Lord Clonmel. — It may be a full answer to what you say, that 
the court will not be ancillary to putting your client into a worse 
situation, whenever the matter comes on — 

Mr. Curran. — It is, my lord, a complete answer. 

[Here Mr. Attorney-General came into court and apologised for 
his absence which was occasioned by indispensable business elsewhere.] 

Mr. Attorney-General. — It is now my duty to call on the 
court to pronounce judgment on Mr. Jackson. 

Clerk of the Crown. — Set the Rev. William Jackson forward. 
[Mr. Jackson was set forward.] 

Clerk or the Crown. — Hold up your right hand. [Mr. Jackson 


then held up his right hand, but in a short time let it fall, being to all 
appearance in a very feeble state.] 

[Here the indictment was read.] 

Clerk op the Crown. — Upon this indictment you have been 
arraigned, upon your arraignment have pleaded not guilty, and for 
trial have put yourself on God and your country, which country hath 
found you guilty — what have you now to say why judgment of death 
and execution thereon should not be awarded against you according 
to law? 

Mr. Curran. — I humbly move that the whole of the record on 
which Mr. Attorney- General has prayed judgment be read over. 

Lord Clonmel. — Mr. Attorney-General, you hear what is moved. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — In the case of M ( Dermott I recollect 
the same application was made, and the court held them not entitled 
to it. 

Mr. Ponsonby. — That was a case of felony ; but in a case of 
treason I conceive we are entitled. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — I do not see what difference that 
makes ; the statute does not make any. 

Mr. Ponsonbt. — We wish to have the whole, the caption as well 
as the indictment, read ; in case of treason, the prisoner is entitled to 
a copy of the caption as well as of the indictment. 

Mr, Attorney-General. — I acknowledge they had a right to 
have a copy of the caption and therefore they have a right to have 
it read. 

[Clerk of the Crown read the caption.] 

" Pleas before our Lord the King, at the King's courts of Trinity 
term in the thirty-fourth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord 
George the Third, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France 
and Ireland King, Defender of the faith and soforth. Witness John 
Earl of Clonmel. H. and R. Conway. County of the city of 
Dublin to wit Be it remembered, that on Friday next after the 
morrow of the Holy Trinity in this same term, before our Lord the 
King in the King's courts, upon the oath of twelve jurors honest and 
lawful men of the body of the county of the city of Dublin, it is 
presented in manner and form following, that is to say" — 

Mr. Curran. — Will you allow us to look at the record ? 

Mr. Attorney-General. — No, you have no right to it. As to 
the objection of having no copy of the indictment, it comes too late 
now, after pleading.* 

(Clerk of the Crown, by desire of the prisoner's counsel, read the 
caption again.) 

Mr. Curran. — I am one of the counsel assigned tp the prisoner : 
There is no doubt that the act does give him a right to have a copy 
of the whole indictment, served on him in due time before trial, and 
no doubt also, that has been considered as extending not only to what 
is generally called the indictment, but to the caption also, and it 
appears to be the constant usage to serve the parties with a copy of 

* Foster's Crown Law, 200. 


the caption as well as of the indictment properly so called* I need 
not cite any authority for this ; it is to be found in the third page of 
Foster.* I did understand that before I came into court the officer 
said there was no caption ; the fact however is, that my client has 
never had any copy of it. 

Mr. Justice Downed — You do not exactly state what the officer 
said ; he said the caption made no part of the indictment. 

Mr. Cobban. — The fact is, that the prisoner has had no copy of 
it ; and of that fact, if you think it necessary, he is ready to make 
affidavit. I know what may be said in answer to this objection, so 
far as it is an objection — Foster does say, that if the prisoner pleaded 
without a copy of the caption he is too late afterwards to make that 
objection or any objection turning on a defect in the copy, for by 
pleading he has admitted a sufficient copy. Now, my lords, having 
learned that the prisoner was not served with any copy of the caption, 
it was supposed that there was not any, and therefore it was thought 
improper to say anything about the matter before ; it was conceived 
by the prisoner and his counsel, and rightly, that there must be such 
a record as on the entire of it would warrant the judgment to be 
pronounced by the court ; reading this caption, such as it is, is a 
surprise on the prisoner and his counsel ; they have therefore no 
opportunity of considering, on the foot of the caption as read and of 
which they had no copy, whether there may not arise an objection 
that might warrant an arrest of judgment. One objection strikes me 
on reading it — it does not name the jurors by whom the bill of indict- 
ment is supposed to have been found. The caption of the indictment 
in the case of the Rebels in 1746 does name the jury. If it should 
appear to the court that a man has been brought to trial and convicted 
where he has not in fact had the advantages which the law gives him 
for his information and direction, it would be for the court to consider 
whether by pleading over in chief, he shall be conceived to have 
waived those advantages altogether ; that he has waived them in part 
is certainly true ; he has waived them so far as regards the correctness 
of the copy ; but whether it would follow that his pleading over is an 
admission that he had a copy in fact served on him, will be for the court 
to consider. Your lordships were pleased to intimate some inclina- 
tion to let the prisoner be remanded and brought up some other day. 

Lord Clonmel. — All the court meant to say was that they would 
yield to necessity. 

Mr. Cobban. — I did not mean to press it unless your lordships 
were inclined from necessity ; but, there is one reason rather than any 
other, on which you might think it ought to be done ; the prisoner 
has been most violently indisposed all day ; he is at present in a state 
of body that renders any communication between him and his counsel 
almost impracticable ; he has every symptom of malady and disease 
about him, as you might have seen when he was put forward. 

Mr. Powsorar. — The names of the grand jurors ought to be set 
out in this and every other case of the same kind ; if the persons who 
found this bill were unqualified to act as grand jurors, it is no indict- 
ment. I could not have made this objection before, never having 

* Ibid, p. 1, 228, 229. 


seen a copy of the caption ; jour lordship will let us have time to 
consider this objection. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — The application to jour lordship is to 
remand the prisoner, in order that he may have an opportunity of 
considering the objection that is now made. I am sure, to indulge 
my own feelings, I should be happy to grant what he desires ; but it 
seems to me an application very needless, and what will produce no 
fruit. The caption is a plain one, and he has pleaded to it as suffi- 
cient, and has been tried on it ; I hope you will now put the gentlemen 
to argue their objections, as the rule always is to argue motions in 
arrest of judgment when they are made. 

Lord Clonmel. — They have stated their reason — what do you say 
as to the caption not having the names of the jurors ? 

Mr. Attorney-General. — I say it is not necessary, and has not 
been the practice ; it is a record of the court which states that the 
jurors for our lord the King, have found a bill of indictment ; when 
it is read, he pleads to it as a sufficient one. If the individuals of the 
jury furnish any objection, he should have taken advantage of it 
before plea pleaded — he might then have stated anything which he 
thought a sufficient objection to the return of the grand jury, or the 
circumstances affecting them — he might in other stages of the prose- 
cution have availed himself of that objection. But though the names 
of the grand jurors were placed on the record, and a substantial 
objection to every one of them as grand jurors, and even though there 
were a substantial objection to the sheriff who returned the pannel, 
after plea pleaded he could take no advantage of such objections ; 
because at the moment he pleaded, he admitted the sufficiency of the 
persons who found the bill and who returned the pannel ; and it 
would be strange to admit that for error, which, if on the face of the 
indictment would not furnish a ground of objection, on which error 
could be brought or judgment 'be reversed ; therefore it seems per- 
fectly nugatory. You have the caption taken according to the practice 
of the court ; but though it were not, it is not necessary it should 
appear on the face of the record for the reasons mentioned, and by 
pleading he has acknowledged it to be such as he should plead to. 
His having pleaded will not prevent him from having his objections 
to anything appearing on the indictment itself. But he admits that 
it is well found, and even if it had what he wants, it would furnish 
no ground for an arrest of judgment. 

Lord Clonmel. — My brothers wish to hear if you have any 
authorities to support the objection. 

Mr. Ponsonby. — Then you wish us to urge it this day ? 

Lord Clonmel. — Yes, certainly. I believe it is lenity to the 
prisoner to dispose of it as soon as possible. 

Mr. Ponsonby. — As to the practice, I do not believe there is any 
practice upon the subject I do not know that there has been a bill 
of indictment for high treason in this court for upwards of one hun- 
dred years past, therefore as to the practice, it would puzzle a man 
elder than any of the officers of the court to give any account of it 
First, then it appears from Foster that the names of the grand jurors 
were set out in the caption. The Attorney-General has been pleased 
to say that by pleading we have cured this defect, if any it was. 


But the first principle of the criminal law is, that a verdict cures 

[Here the prisoner growing exceedingly faint, the court ordered 
the windows to be opened that he should have free air.] 

Mr. Pohsoubt continued. The statute of jeofails does not apply. If 
it ever was error, it is error still. I humbly conceive, that you cannot 
be warranted to pronounce judgment, unless it appears that the bill 
of indictment was regularly taken and returned, as such bill ought to 
be. That the names of the jurors should be set out, is plain for two 
reasons, first that the prisoner might have an opportunity to object to 
them, as not being qualified to be grand jurors. Secondly, that he 
might have an opportunity of objecting to them, if they were called 
on the petit jury, because otherwise it is impossible for him to know 
who composed it, and these very persons who found the bill may be 
put on the petit jury. If it does not appear on the record that all 
things were legally done, the court cannot pronounce judgment. It 
is not sufficient to say that the charges are sufficiently kid in the 
indictment itself. It is not any answer to our objection to say that 
we do not object to the counts which charge the treason ; but I say 
H is necessary that on the record itself, as it stands made up, all the 
circumstances should appear legally done. And if they do not appear 
so, the court cannot pronounce judgment It is not merely on the 
indictment and verdict that the court pronounces its judgment ; it is 
on the whole record. Suppose there appeared a plain, manifest and 
uncontroverted error in the caption of the indictment, could it be 
argued that the court would be warranted in giving judgment ? 

By this time the prisoner, having sunk upon his chair, appeared to 
be in a state of extreme debility. 

Lord Clohmel. — If the prisoner is in a state of insensibility, it is 
impossible that I can pronounce the judgment of the court upon him. 
If Foster had not mentioned a like instance (the case of an old woman 
brought up to the Old Bailey) humanity and common sense would 
require that he should be in a state of sensibility. 

Attobhey-Gbhebal. — On that ground I have no objection to his 
being remanded ; it was on the other ground that I objected. 

Mr. Cubban*— Your Lordship did the same in the case of the 
Walshes, father and son. 

Lord Clobmel. — I did. 

[Here the Clerk of the Crown read the caption again.] 

Mr. Ponsonby. — It does not state that they were sworn to try and 

Mr. Justice Downbs. — It is, on their oaths. 

Here the prisoner becoming insensible, Doctor Thomas Waite, who 
was present in court, was desired to go into the dock to him. He 
after some examination informed the court there was every apprehen- 
sion he would go off immediately. 

Mr. Thomas Kinsley, who was in the jury-box, said, he would 
go down to him ; he accordingly went into the dock, and in a short 
time informed the court, that the prisoner was certainly dying. 

The court ordered Mr. Kinsley to be sworn. 


He was sworn accordingly. 

Lord Clonmel. — Are you in any profession ? 

Mr. Kinsley. — I am an apothecary and druggist 

Lord Clonmel. — Can you say you understand your profession 
sufficiently, so as to speak of the state of the prisoner? 

Mr. Kinsley. — I can. I think him verging to eternity ; he has 
every symptom of death about him. 

Lord Clonmel. — Do you conceive him insensible, or in that state, 
as to be able to hear the judgment, or what may be said for or against 

Mr. Kinsley. — Quite the contrary. I do not think he can hear his 

Lord Clonmel. — Then he must be taken away. Take care in 
sending him away, that you do not any mischief. Let him be remanded 
until farther orders, and I believe it much for his advantage, as for all 
of yours, to adjourn. 

The sheriff informed the court that the prisoner was dead. 

Lord Clonmel. — Let an inquisition, and a respectable one, be 
held on the body. You should carefully enquire when and by what 
means he died. 

The court then adjourned, and the body of the deceased remained 
in the dock, without being moved from the position in which he had 
died, until nine o'clock of the following morning, May 1st, when an 
inquisition was held upon a view of the body. Surgeons Hume and 
Adrian were examined ; they opened the body and found near a pint 
of acrid matter in the stomach, which was entirely corroded ; but the 
bowels were not at all affected, the matter not having passed to them. 
Mr. Hume was of opinion, the matter in the stomach was a metallic 
poison, that it caused the death of the deceased, and that no diet could 
have occasioned such appearances as the stomach exhibited ; it was 
impossible the deceased could survive, the matter being of such a 
mortal nature, as appeared from the symptoms. 

Mr. Gregg, the gaoler, was also examined ; he said the deceased 
was visited by Mrs. Jackson, in the morning, before he was brought 
up to the court — witness went into the room, and perceived Mr. 
Jackson much agitated ; — he said he had taken some tea which always 
disagreed with him, when his spirits were depressed; immediately 
after which he vomited very violently. 


County of Dublin,} An Inquisition indented taken and held for 
to wit. J our Sovereign Lord the King at the place 

commonly called or known by the name of the Court of King's Bench, 
in the said county of Dublin, the first day of May, in the Thirty-fifth 
Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third, by the 
Grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King Defender 
of the Faith and soforth, before George Hepenstal, Esq. one of the 
Coroners of our said Lord the King, for the said county, on view 
of the body of the Rev. William Jackson, then and there lying 
dead, upon the oath of John King, William Gibton, John Brooke, 
Christopher Halligan, Thomas Saunders, John Plunket, Francis 


Hammil, Thomas Mangan, John Ellery, James Byefield, John Keane, 
and James Murphy, good and lawful men, of the said county, duly 
chosen, and who being then and there duly sworn and charged to 
enquire, for our said Lord the King, when how and by what means 
the said William Jackson came to his death, do, upon their oaths, say, 
We find that the deceased William Jackson died on the 30th of 
April, in consequence of some acrid and mortal matter taken into his 
stomach, but how or by whom administered is to the Jury unknown. 

A paper, of which the following is a copy, was found in the pocket of 
the deceased, in his own hand-writing. 

Turn Thee unto me, and have mercy upon me ; for I am desolate 
and afflicted ! 

The troubles of my heart are enlarged, O bring Thou me out of 
my distresses ! 

Look upon mine affliction and my pain ; and forgive all my sins ! 

Consider mine enemies for they are many ; and they hate me with 
a cruel violence ! 

keep my Soul, and deliver me. Let me not be ashamed, for I 
put my trust in Thee. 


The following Trials deserve particular notice, perhaps not more 
from the peculiar popular organization they develope, than from 
the extraordinary displays of judicial character by which they were 

The Defenders, at the period of these trials, and most probably 
from the year 1790, had merged the agrarian, in the political nature 
of their Association. They were not, in the beginning, however, 
either political or aggressive ; they were a lawless body, resisting a 
body still more lawless ; their crimes were the offspring of a system 
of oppression pursued untiringly against them by the Peep-of-day 
Boys of Ulster. 

The various other commotions, which for years had disturbed this 
country, destroyed its peace, injured its trade and manufacture, and 
peopled its jails and gibbets, had causes peculiar to themselves. The 
Whiteboys, who commenced their career of crime in 1Y59» grew out 
of the adoption, by the landed proprietors and farmers in the south 
of Ireland, of a system of extensive pasture-farming, followed by the 
expulsion of the tenants, who had lived by the labour of agriculture, 
from their small holdings. It was the same system of improvement, 
which is now popularly known as " extermination," and produced 
lamentable, but not surprising effects. " The cottiers 9 ' said the Right 
Hon. Charles Grant, in his speech, April 22, 1822, "being tenants- 
at-will, were everywhere dispossessed of their scanty holdings, and 
large tracts of grazing-land were set to the wealthy monopolisers, 
who, by feeding cattle, required few hands and paid higher rents. 
Pressed by need, most of these unfortunate peasants sought refuge in 
the neighbouring towns for the sake of begging that bread which they 
could no longer earn ; and the only piteous resource of the affluent 
was to ship off as many as would emigrate, to seek maintenance or 
death in a foreign clime."* This was a fertile nursery of crime ; and 
accordingly the authors of the Whiteboy disturbances were found 
abundantly amongst all classes and all persuasions of the peasantry. 
It was a society making rude attempts to resist, or avenge want ; but 
utterly free from disaffection to the government 

* Butler Bryan's Practical View of Ireland, 10. 


Similar causes, the pressure of grand jury cess and of tithes, and 
the demand of high prices for the setting of lands, produced in suc- 
cession the Hearts of Oak, the Hearts of Steel, and the Right Boys. 
Lord Clare accounted for these unfortunate combinations. He said, 
" It was impossible for human wretchedness to exceed that of the 
miserable peasantry in Munster ; he knew that the unhappy tenantry 
were ground to powder by relentless landlords." 

But the Peep-of-day Boys, were an association of a different 
character, influenced at one and the same time by bigotry and 
avarice. Intolerant of the religion of the Roman Catholics, and 
desirous to possess their land, the Peep-of-day Boys combined the 
gratification of both passions, by the adoption of a system of outrage 
and robbery against the persons and the property of the Catholic 
peasantry of the north of Ireland. They were chiefly, if not entirely, 
Protestants, who assumed the sanctions of Protestanism for conduct 
abhorrent from the spirit of all religion. Originally, they were con- 
fined to the county of Armagh. Their career commenced in 1784, 
and has been variously described. They drew upon the stores of 
history, and found a precedent in the Puritan regicide's edict, "to 
hell or to Connaught," and they proceeded very systematically to drive 
the Catholic population of Ulster beyond the Shannon. At the 
earliest dawn, they visited their houses under the pretence of seeking 
for arms — the common trick of the tyrant in Ireland is a search for 
arms — and, even in the guarded language of the advocate of flagella- 
tion and pitchcaps, " committed the most wanton outrages, insulting 
their persons and breaking their furniture."* But domiciliary visits 
soon gave way to ejectment. Expulsion from farms became general ; 
it was a proceeding by which the Protestant wrecker, Peep-of-day 
Boy, and eventually purple Orangeman specially occupied the relin- 
quished acres, and sat down, a conqueror, to enjoy the fruits of his 
invasion. The facts are undeniable; at a period little later than 
these trials, not less than 7,000 Catholics had been burned out of 
Armagh. Plowden adds, that the "ferocious banditti who had 
expelled them had been encouraged, connived at, and protected by 
government." It is certain the magistrates had been supine, and had 
given passive encouragement to the Peep-of-day Boys, who had 
changed their name into Orangemen. The charitable and christian 
portion of the northern Protestants looked with horror and disgust 
at the enormities practised upon the wretched peasantry, and falsely 
said to be practised under the sanctions of Protestantism ; but men of 
that class were not the majority, nor were they found in any great 

Musgrave's History, 54. 


numbers amongst those to whom was consigned the guardianship of 
the peace. The magistrates — whether from secret sympathy, or want 
of energy, it matters little— allowed the houses of the people to be 
burned or unroofed, and the people themselves to be driven, under 
fierce threats, out of their native dwellings, without any active inter- 
position to save them. 

The consequence was natural The unprotected people sought 
protection from themselves. They felt that they were the victims of 
a conspiracy between Guilt and Power— burnt out of their houses, 
shot, or robbed by the first ; unprotected, unredressed by the last — 
and they looked to their own strength and despair for that defence 
which the law refused. And hence came the Defenders. Their 
oppressors were men of the lowest rank amongst the Protestants ; 
the Defenders were in the lowest rank of the Catholics ; but the 
crimes of neither can, with justice, be imputed to the spirit of their 
religion. The Peep-of-day Boys were vulgar men, using the name 
of religion, as a mask for robbery and aggrandizement ; the Defenders 
were a society of affrighted peasants, agitated by despair or vin- 
dictiveness, and driven to wage a defensive war against violence and 

A new element was introduced into the crime and misery of the 
northern counties. The magistrates, supine * before, now became 
fiercely active. The cruelties of the Peep-of-day Boys were all in 
the right quarter: they had depopulated the villages of the poor, 
unroofed their houses, and brought dismay and sorrow to their 
hearths ; it was no more than the rich man had done before — but, when 
misery armed, and retributive crime stalked about, when the magis- 
trate's own house was fired, and he was individually in danger, it 
became necessary to cast aside supineness and to wake the most active 
energies of the law. And accordingly we find that in February 1796 
an Indemnity Bill was required " for those persons who nobly dared 
to preserve the tranquillity of the country, and who in quelling tumults 
and insurrections had exceeded the ordinary forms of the law." 

Coupled with this bill of indemnity — passed to shelter the magis- 
trates, who had sent the peasantry, in hundreds, on board transports, 
without trial, or form of law — was introduced an Insurrection Act 
for " the purpose of preventing insurrections, tumults, and riots by 
persons styling themselves Defenders, and other disorderly persons " 
Not a word of specification beyond the Defenders — and yet it was 
well known to the men who introduced that bill, that the association 
of Defenderism — monstrous and portentous as it undeniably was — 
was but the antagonist power to a more monstrous system, one which 
had desolated several counties in Ireland, and introduced the worst 


disorders by which the state could be endangered. Not one word 
was said of that system : not an allusion was made to the Peep-of-day 
Boys who flushed with the victory of the Diamond had assumed the 
more respectable name of Orangemen. It was a specimen of one-sided 
legislation— too frequent in Ireland — whose fruits are abundant in 
her history. The Defenders participated with the Orangemen in the 
practices which disturbed the public peace ; but they alone reaped the 
fruit of crime. One class of criminals was disposed of in the trans- 
port ship, on the gallows, or by the military ; the other was openly 
sanctioned or coldly censured, by the faint or feigned disapprobation 
of secret sympathy. 

And yet there were abundant materials for even-handed justice to 
work upon ; there seldom occurred anything more criminal, more 
detestable, and more inhuman than the northern persecution. A 
bold and honest government could have done infinite good by a just 
distribution of the penalties of the law, — if whilst they hunted down 
the oppressed and plundered Defender, they had not spared his 
plunderer and oppressor. The Report of the Secret Committee 
mentions these things in a mitigated shape, reserving its censure for 
the Defenders, and but slightly alluding to the provoking cause of 
their crimes. 

" In the summer of 1796, the outrages committed by a banditti, 
calling themselves Defenders, in the counties of Roscommon, Leitrim, 
Longford, Meath, Westmeath, and Eildare, together with a religious 
feud prevailing in the county of Armagh, induced the legislature to 
pass a temporary Act of Parliament, generally called the Insurrection 
Act, by which the Lord Lieutenant and Council were enabled, upon 
the requisition of seven magistrates of any county assembled at a 
sessions of the peace, to proclaim the whole or any part thereof to be 
in a state of disturbance ; within which limits this law, giving 
increased powers to the magistracy, was to have effect."* 

The religious feud, thus slightly mentioned, was the cause of the 
outrages of the banditti, whose ruined hearts and homes were their 
only cause of warfare, and whose rude organization was supplied by 
their despair. 

When this persecution had proceeded to a great length, and the 
revengeful fury of the people had worked great crimes, the magis- 
trates of Armagh were compelled to take notice of the existence of 
the agrarian warfare which was desolating the country. A meeting 
of their body took place on the 26th December 1795, having been 
convened by Lord Gosford for the purpose of adopting measures, " the 

Report of the Secret Committee of the Commons, p. 7. 


most likely to check the enormities which had brought disgrace upon 
the county and which would soon reduce it to the deepest distress."* 
This meeting was only valuable for Lord Gosford's speech — a speech 
of historical import, containing his undoubted testimony to the 
alarming state to which the country had been reduced, by a band of 
plebeian marauders, unchecked in their excesses by the magistracy 
of the country. 

" It is," said he, " no secret that a persecution, accompanied with 
all the circumstances of ferocious cruelty, which have in all ages 
distinguished that calamity, is now raging in this county. Neither 
age, nor sex, nor even acknowledged innocence, as to any guilt in the 
late disturbances is sufficient to excite mercy or afford protection. 
The only crime, which the wretched objects of this ruthless persecu- 
tion, are charged with, is a crime indeed of easy proof: it is simply 
a profession of the Roman Catholic faith, or an intimate connection 
with a person professing that faith. A lawless banditti have consti- 
tuted themselves judges of this new species of delinquency, and the 
sentence they have denounced is equally concise and terrible ! It is 
nothing less than a confiscation of all property, and an immediate 
banishment. It would be extremely painful, and surely unnecessary 
to detail the horrors that attend the execution of so rude and tre- 
mendous a proscription. A proscription, that certainly exceeds in 
the comparative number of those it consigns to ruin and misery, 
every example that ancient and modern history can supply ; for where 
have we heard, or in what story of human cruelties have we read of 
more than half the inhabitants of a populous country deprived, at one 
blow, of the means as well as of the fruits of their industry, and 
driven, in the midst of an inclement season, to seek a shelter for 
themselves and their helpless families, where chance may guide them. 
This is no exaggerated picture of the horrid scenes now acting in 
this country. Tet surely it is sufficient to awaken sentiments of 
indignation and compassion in the coldest bosoms. These horrors 
are now acting with impunity. The spirit of impartial justice— 
without which, law is nothing better than an instrument of tyranny — 
has for a time disappeared in the country, and the supineness of 
•Armagh is become a common topic of conversation in every corner 
of the kingdom."t 

When such horrors— -so vividly painted and by so unquestionable 
a hand — were permitted to be acted with impunity, there is no matter 
of surprise in the fact that even this eloquent denunciation was 

* Plowden. 

f Plowden's History of Ireland from 1801 to 1810, introduction, p. 33. 


unproductive of any good effect The spirit of impartial justice did 
not sleep — it was dead. For the legislature of the country was 
equally supine in applying punishment where it was merited, and 
equally active in oppressing and torturing the already grievously- 
tormented victims of this " rude and tremendous proscription." In 
the House of Commons, Grattan was, as might be expected, more 
eloquent in his details, and more indignant in his invective. In 
replying to the Attorney-General (Arthur Wolfe) who introduced 
the Insurrection Bill, Feb. 1796, he said : — 

" He did not suppose the right honorable gentleman's statement to 
be inflamed but, he must observe, at the same time, that it was 
partial. He did indeed expatiate very fully and justly on the offences 
of. the Defenders ; but with respect to another description of insur- 
gents, whose barbarities had excited general abhorrence, he had 
observed a complete silence; he had proceeded to enumerate the 
counties that were afflicted by disturbances and he had omitted 
Armagh. He had received the most dreadful accounts ; that their 
object was the extermination of all the Catholics of that county. It 
was a persecution conceived in the bitterness of bigotry, carried on 
with the most ferocious barbarity, by a banditti, who being of the 
religion of the state, had committed with the greater audacity and 
confidence, the most horrid murders, and had proceeded from robbery 
and massacre to extermination; they had repealed by their own 
authority, all the laws lately passed in favour of the Catholics, had 
established in the place of those laws the inquisition of a mob, 
resembling Lord George Gordon's fanatics, equalling them in outrage, 
and surpassing them far in perseverance and success." 

He then proceeds to describe in detail the circumstances of this 
unparalleled and extraordinary phenomenon in history. The masters 
of families were compelled to dismiss their Catholic servants ; the 
landlord to eject his Catholic tenants ; Catholic weavers were seized 
as deserters, transmitted to Dublin to abide their trial for leaving a 
service they had never entered. 

" Those insurgents, who called themselves Orange Boys, or Pro- 
testant Boys — that is, a banditti of murderers, committing massacre 
in the name of God, and exercising despotic power in the name of 
liberty ; those insurgents have organized their rebellion, and have 
formed themselves into a committee, who 6it and try the Catholic 
weavers and inhabitants when apprehended, falsely and illegally, as 
deserters ; this rebellious committee, they call the committee of elders, 
who, when the unfortunate Catholic is torn from his family and his 
loom, and brought before them, sit in judgment upon his case ; if he 
gives them liquor or money, they sometimes discharge him ; otherwise 


they send him to a recruiting officer as a deserter. They had very 
generally given the Catholics notice to quit their farms and dwellings, 
which notice is plastered on their houses, and conceived in these short 
bat pithy words, u Go to hell, Connaught will not receive you ; fire 
and faggot ! Will Thresham and John Thrustout." They followed 
these notices by a faithful and punctual execution of the horrid threat, 
soon after visited the house, robbed the family, and destroyed what 
they did not take ; and finally, completed the atrocious persecutions, 
by forcing the unfortunate inhabitants to leave their land, their 
dwellings, and their trade, and travel with their miserable families, 
and with whatever each miserable family could save from the wreck 
of their houses and tenements, and take refuge in villages as fortifi- 
cations against invaders. In many instances this banditti of perse* 
ention threw down the houses of the tenantry, or what they called 
racked the house, so that the family must fly or be buried in the 
grave of their own cabin. The extent of the murders that have 
been committed by this atrocious and rebellious banditti, I have heard ; 
but have not heard them so ascertained as to state them to the house; 
but from all the enquiries I could make, I collect that the Catholic 
inhabitants of Armagh, have been actually put out of the protection 
of the law; that the magistrates have been supine or partial, and 
that this horrid banditti has met with complete success and from the 
magistracy with very little discouragement.** 

This was the provocation, and these the injuries by which the 
Catholics of Ulster were driven into the ranks of Defenderism. 
Men, however rude they may be, will often reason well upon familiar 
facts. The Catholic, who saw his cabin in flames, and his wife and 
children ruthlessly expelled from the scenes of his and their oldest 
attachments ; and who moreover saw the magistracy in the country — 
the men of birth, intelligence and wealth — the men in whom the law 
is most familiarly recognized — not anxious to anticipate or quick to 
punish the mean and heartless agents of his wrongs, but their patrons 
and sometimes their instigators, it is not at all surprising he trans- 
ferred his resentments from the plebeian mob who yelled around 
the ruins of his dwelling, to the law which seemed to sanction their 
crimes. And thus the Defenders were by degrees transformed into 
a political society, whose object was not alone to resist actual wrongs 
—but to destroy, or remove, their real or imagined sources. 

They saw but two parties in the country, an oppressive, harsh, and 
bad government on the one hand ; and on the other, the Society of 
United Irishmen bound together by a common tie of social love, and 

* Grattan's speeches, vol. 3, p. 220. 


professing to link all classes of their countrymen in one < 
resistance to all manner of injustice and oppression. Tortured, 
transported or hanged by the first— sued, consoled and admonished 
by the latter, it was natural for the Defenders to be eventually found 
filling the lowest ranks of the Union. The reader will therefore find 
them swearing allegiance to the Convention, and in their catechisms, 4 
he will detect the French notions of universal conquest over all tyrants 
and kings. 

"To the Armagh persecution, is the union of Irishmen most 
exceedingly indebted. The persons and properties of the wretched 
Catholics of that county were exposed to the merciless attacks of an 
Orange faction which was certainly in many instances uneontroulled 
by the justices of peace, and claimed to be in all supported by 
government. When these men found that illegal acts of magistrates 
were indemnified by occasional statutes, and the courts of justice 
shut against them by parliamentary barriers, they began to think 
they had no refuge but in joining the Union. Their dispositions so 
to do, were much increased, by finding the Presbyterians of Belfast 
especially, step forward to espouse their cause and succour their 
distress. We shall here remark, once for all, what we most solemnly 
aver, that wherever the Orange system was introduced, particularly 
in Catholic counties, it was uniformly observed that the numbers of 
United Irishmen increased most astonishingly. The alarm which an 
Orange lodge excited amongst the Catholics made them look for refuge 
from a junction in the United system ; and as their number was 
greater than that of bigoted Protestants, our harvest was tenfold. At 
the same time that we mention this circumstance we must confess 
and most deeply regret that it excited a mutual acrimony and vin- 
dictive spirit, which was peculiarly opposite to the interest, and 
abhorrent to the feelings of the United Irishmen, and has lately 
manifested itself we hear in outrage of much horror.f" 

It was supposed by some, and falsely represented by others, that 
Defenderism was the origin of the second organization of the United 
Irishmen. The connection between these two bodies of discontent 
and conspiracy was attributable on the one hand to the causes I have 
already stated — namely, the desire naturally felt by the Defenders to 
enlist under the guidance of men of superior rank and ability whose 
doctrines of brotherly affection and political equality so admirably 
contrasted with the harsh and repulsive conduct of government and 
the gross inhumanity of the Orangemen ; and on the other to the 

* See the indictment in Weldon's ease, pott. 

t Pieces of Irish History, written August 4th, 1796. 


active propagandism of the working men of the Union who spared 
no opportunities to extend the organization and numbers of the 
society. So far was the latter feeling carried, that they imagined it 
possible to reconcile the two factions — the Peep-of-day Boys and 
Defenders — in one common political object. There is no evidence 
that with regard to the former, any conversions were effected. Their 
atrocities were too remunerative, and the rich rewards of depopulated 
holdings, were not sacrificed to any political chimera or unsubstantial 
dream of patriotism. 

But with the Defenders, the United Irishmen were most success* 
fuL Neilson, Tone and some others in July and August, 1792, 
exerted themselves to reconcile the Catholics and Presbyterians in 
the Barony of Rathfryland, and Neilson travelled through the 
northern counties for the same purpose. Charles Teeling, some 
few days before the battle of the Diamond, proceeded to Armagh 
as he himself says " to open some channel if possible for a 
pacific arrangement and to preserve the county from a wanton 
expenditure of blood."* Henry Joy M'Cracken, one of the victims 
of court martial in '98 was also actively engaged in the same service. 
These men had little success in their attempts at reconciliation, but 
they were more fortunate in diverting the efforts of the Defenders to 
a change in the government of the country. That body thus presents 
itself under three successive aspects, an agrarian defensive society, — 
an ignorant insurrectionary mob — and finally a portion of that great 
national confederation by which the supremacy of England was nearly 

An idea has been entertained that Jacobite opinions prevailed 
amongst the Defenders, and that they had communications with 
France before those of the Union. It seems improbable ; and Mr. 
Teeling believes that they had no French views whatever. With 
reference to any mission to France, it is in every way unlikely if not 
impossible. Until their junction with the Union, they had, with few 
exceptions, no man of sufficient intelligence amongst them, to devise 
and execute so intricate and difficult a project as that of intriguing 
with the authorities of a foreign state ; nor is it at all likely that so 
accurate a knowledge of the state of Ireland existed in France as to 
lead the ruling powers there to open a communication with so insig- 
nificant a body as the Defenders originally were. Dr. Madden says, 
"H is difficult to understand the allusions to French subjects, in their 
test and secret pass-words and cabalistic jargon, without supposing 
that some slight tincture of the old Jacobite principles of 1689 was 

* Teeting's Observations on the consequences of the battle of the Diamond ; 
Dr. Madden's History of the United Irishmen, 1st vol., 2d series, 98. 


atill mixed up with their views and projects." If so, it most hare 
been a very indefinite tincture indeed — some dim and ignorant tradition 
— some obscure memory of the mistaken loyalty and the unrepaid 
heroism of former days. And as far as their cabalistic jargon is con- 
cerned, the vulgar imitativeness of ignorance most naturally adopted 
it from the foolish and unnatural cant of fraternity which was used by 
some, even of the ablest, of the popular men of the day. A body of 
oppressed and plundered peasants had work more congenial on hands 
— that of self-defence or vengeance — than any plotting in connection 
with a miserable defunct dynasty. The United Irishmen had too 
much trouble in giving a political character to Defenderiam, to allow 
us to suppose that of its own accord it cherished any hope of being 
able to assist in replacing the descendant of the miserable James— if 
such a descendant existed—- on the throne of England. They were 
not Republicans certainly — the genius of their religion and their long 
habits of endurance forbade it — but they were too ignorant to under- 
stand the question of disputed succession, and the question itself was 
utterly removed from their sympathies and their sufferings. It is 
equally erroneous with that more modern notion that the people of 
Ireland expect to re-establish the titles which the prescription of 
centuries and half-a-dozen confiscations have destroyed. 

The vengeance of government was directed with peculiar bitterness 
against the Defenders ; and, unfortunately for them, their steps were 
tracked by the same low and cunning treachery which destroyed the 
United Irishmen and saved English power in Ireland. The infamy of 
Reynolds, and the appalling turpitude of Armstrong had their counter- 
part in the vulgar villainy of Lawler.* After the battle of the Dia- 
mond, the magistrates and military tribunals were active, to an extra- 
ordinary degree, against the unsuccessful people. Thirteen hundred 
of them were taken from the jails by Lord Carhampton and sent on 
board the transport vessels without any form of trial or legal process^ 
Nor were the commissions of Oyer and Terminer — though somewhat 
more formal — a whit less certain in distributing vengeance amongst 
their victims. The convictions in the following cases were not such 
as should be desired, or would be accepted by any but a government 
of hardened despotism. 

In most of the cases, the prisoners were but boys ; — either seduced 
into the foolish conspiracy by shrewder and wickeder men, or else enter- 
ing upon it from the uncalculating thoughtlessness of youth, as upon 
something whose mystery had the delightful charm of exciting danger, 
to recommend it to the adoption of possibly uncorrupted hearts and 

* See the Trials of Weldon and Leary. Po$t. 
f Dr. Madden'* History. 1 toI. 1 »eriea, p. 132. 


giddy heads. When the mere boyhood of the prisoner Kennedy was 
pressed upon the court, Lord Clonmel took refuge in a stale precedent 
from Foster in which a lad was found guilty of a very atrocious 
murder and not executed. Lord Clonmel was, to be sure, a vulgar 
bigot and a furious partizan. His allusion to Rowan* — a man 
altogether superior to the upstart plebeian, the descendant of a 
Williamke soldier, who owed his elevation to the bench, to the same 
qualities which enabled him to disgrace it — was brutal in the extreme. 
And we have no just reason to be surprised at the inhumanity with 
which — true to the instincts of his base nature — he hunted these 
* tuckered traitors" to the gallows. 

When all the sacrifices were complete, and the convenient juries of 
those days, packed as they were with a skill worthy of the imitation 
of the corruption of modern times, had found their courtly verdicts, 
Lord Clonmel the presiding priest, stepped out of his office, and not 
content with the bloody consummation he had assisted at, indulged 
the grand jury with a harangue, which the reader will see at the end 
of the trials of the Defenders, and which he will find but little diffi- 
culty in pronouncing one of the most disgusting speeches ever uttered 
from the Bench of Justice— even by the accurst lips of Jefferies or of 
Toler — a monstrous and incredible example of judicial savagery and 
falsehood. The unhappy Jackson had but shortly before perished in 
the very shambles of justice — anticipating the public butcher, and 
baulking hungry vengeance — and this inhuman judge, not sparing 
eren the dead, commenced his extra-judicial harangue by designating 
Mm as a " self-executed traitor"— contrary to the finding of the 
inquest which sat upon the unhappy being, and which with pious 
reverence to an oath, refused to load his memory with the charge of 
self-murder, but left the whole matter in a state of charitable doubt- 

The chief — nay, the only witness in the trials of the Defenders- 
vis William Lawler. He presented one other of the phases in which 
the habitual treachery of those days manifested itself. With some, 
ta with that vile miscreant Cockayne, it was affected loyalty — with 
others, as with Reynolds it was love of money — with others, as with 
the abominable Armstrong, it was inherent depravity, irreclaimable 
vilenesa, natural turpitude of heart — with others, as with O'Brien, it 
*as a mixture of bloodthirstiness and avarice — and, it is difficult to 
ay, what was the peculiar moving impulse of Lawless treachery. 
He stood confessed a ruffian who had dared to question the truth of 
our divine faith — a low sceptic whose vulgar daring presumed to 

' See the Speeches of the Grand Jury at the end of the Defenders* Trials. 


dabble with the great mysteries of Christianity — a miserable wretch 
who accepted comfort from the appalling doctrine of eternal annihi- 
lation. He had attempted murder — he had plotted, devised, concocted 
the assassination of his brother in iniquity, Cockayne— he was a 
thief — he had consented to the murder of the Protestants, and his 
fastidiousness only refused to consent to the murder of all the 
Protestants ! He was himself a Protestant — yet passed himself off 
amongst the Defenders as a Catholic, and embraced their tenets and 
their designs with equal promptitude-— and yet what does Lord 
Clonmel say of this man ? It is worth remarking — for wonderful 
was the chain of sympathy which extended from the witness-table 
whereon the corrupt perjurer was appealing to a Creator he did not 
believe in, to the bench on which the judge was outraging His most 
beautiful precepts. " My God, is it necessary for me to go into a 
laboured refinement to satisfy you that every thing Lawler has been 
saying hitherto is worthy of credit? It was alleged that the verdicts 
were founded upon the extravagant assertions of a wretch who should 
not be believed. If there be any man who thinks that way, I desire 
no longer to discourse with him upon any subject."* He wished to 
hold discourse with no man, who would not accept the plighted oath 
of an intended murderer, and a professed Atheist ! And this was 
uttered, but a few minutes after he had sent two boys, two tuckered 
traitors, to the gallows upon the unsupported testimony and the 
" extravagant assertions" of this " wretch!" 

But a still more extraordinary exhibition was made by Lord 
Clonmel in this unusual address to the Grand Jury. Speaking of 
one of the Mount Norres family who had distinguished himself 
against a band of robbers that had infested the country, the Chief 
Justice said — " With one sword he subdued seven and brought them 
to the gallows. I saw the man 9 8 picture with blood upon his face : 
glorious picture! and glorious story to be told!" There was one 
man in that court, whose picture has been drawn in our legal history, 
and with blood enough upon his face — the humanity of those who 
see it, will possibly not pronounce it a very glorious one. 

Having said so much on the Trials, little remains to be added. 
With the Rebellion of '98, the Defenders substantially ceased to be 
heard of: the spirit that animated them was one dependant on the 
aggression of others, and may be discovered long after the society 
was forgotten. It is to be hoped that the enlightened nationality of 
feeling — superior at the same time to the heartless avarice and ruthless 
bigotry of the Orangemen, and the savage vindictiveness and low 

* Lord Clonmel's speech. 


intolerance of the Defender— daily gaining ground, and quietly 
winning its useful way amongst the young men of Ireland, will 
consign to utter oblivion the feuds and follies of our ancestors of every 
rank, and every creed. 

Note.. — The following passage is from Seward's Collectanea 
PoEtica, 3d volume, page 153. 

" The cause of the animosity which subsisted between the Peep-of- 
day Boys and the Defenders has been differently accounted for. The 
writer of a pamphlet under the name of Veridicus,* attributes it to 
a quarrel which took place in the fair of Portnorris, between two of 
those sectaries, whose personal enmity soon extended itself to the 
entire body of each. The Roman Catholics (said he) assumed the 
name of Defenders, because they could not obtain protection from the 
laws, to which they had recourse after having been worsted by the 
Peep-of-day Boys. When their passions became inflamed, they 
proceeded to exercise the most desperate outrage against each other, 
in the course of which many lives were lost." 

This supposition is very absurd, and manifestly false, as might be 
expected coming from Sir R. Musgrave, even in the character of 
Veridicus, Another version of this contest about which I have 
briefly treated in this notice of the Defenders is given in Hayes* 
History of the Rebellion. 

" In the beginning of the year 1795, parties of contending rioters 
denominated Peep-of-day Boys and Defenders, disturbed different 
parts of the province of Ulster, by acts of violence and outrage 
against each other. Some say their animosities originated from elec- 
tioneering. To these succeeded, in the summer of the same year, a 
description of public disturbers — calling themselves Orangemen — 
who now made their first appearance in the county of Armagh. 
Their object appears to have been not to suffer a Catholic to remain 
within the limits of their sphere of action. They posted up on the 
doors of the Catholics, peremptory notices of departure, specifying 
the precise time — a week at the farthest — pretty nearly in the 
following words : c To hell or to Connaught with you, you bloody 
Papists, or if you are not gone by {mentioning the day\ we will 
come and destroy yourselves and your properties. We hate all Papists 
here. ,w 

Sir R. Musgrave thus accounts for the origin of the Orangemen: — 

" As the Defenders not only became terrific to individuals in most 
parte of the kingdom, by the constant perpetration of nocturnal 
robberies and assassination, but as they formed a systematic combi- 

* Sir R. Musgrave — Veridicus was a singular name for him to choose. 


nation, and supplied themselves with arms for the obvious purpose of 
subverting the constitution in church and state, and as they were 
encouraged and directed by the Catholic committee* and the United 
Irishmen — the Protestants of the Established Church, to defeat their 
malignant designs, found it necessary to excite a spirit of loyalty, 
which began to languish and decline in a very alarming degree, and to 
rally round the Altar and the Throne, which were in imminent danger. 
The battle of the Diamond, in the county of Armagh, in September, 
1795, and the duplicity and treachery of the Romanists on that 
occasion, convinced the Protestants that they would become an easy 
prey to their enemies, from the paucity of their numbers, unless they 
associated for their defence, particularly as the fanatical vengeance 
which they displayed on that and other occasions convinced the 
members of the Established Church that they meditated nothing less 
than their total extirpation. In commemoration of that victory the 
first Orange Lodge was formed in the county of Armagh, on the 21st 
September, 1795, though the name of Orangeman existed some time 
before. They were merely a society of loyal Protestants, associated 
and bound together solely for the purpose of maintaining and 
defending the constitution in church and state, as established by the 
Prince of Orange, at the glorious Revolution, which they regarded 
as a solemn and sacred duty." 

The last passage must be read in connection with Lord Gosford's 
statement, and Grattan's speeches on the same subject A little 
examination will show it to be full of most gross falsehood. 

* This is not worth refutation. It is a feeble falsehood. 










On MONDAY, Dec. 21, and TUE8DAY, Dec. 22, 

36 Gxo. m. a.d. 1796. 


Monday, December 14, 1795. 

Mr. Babon George sat as the Judge of the Commission, and was 
assisted by Mr. Justice Chamberlain and Mr. Justice Finucane. 

In the latter end of the month of August 1795, several persons 
were taken into custody in the city of Dublin upon charges of High 
Treason, and in the ensuing commission of Oyer and Terminer held 
in October, bills of indictment were preferred against them, and others 
not then in custody, which were returned by the grand jury to be 
true bills. 

The prisoners in custody were then brought to the bar of the court 
for the purpose of having counsel and agents, assigned. They were 
severally called upon to name their own counsel and agents, and such 
m they named were assigned by the court, as follows : — 

Thomas Kennedy, 
George Lewis, 
Patrick Hart, 

Edward Hanlon, 
Thomas Cooke, 
John Lowry. 

Counsel — Messrs. Curran and M'Nally. 
Agent — Mr. A. Fitzgerald. 


Thomas Mubfhy, | Michael Maguire. 

Counsel — Messrs. M'Nally and Lysaoht. 

Agent — Mr. M. Kearney. 

Henby Flood. 

Counsel — Messrs. Fletcher and Ridgeway. 

Agent — Mr. F. Flood. 

In the interval between the October commission and the present, 
a person of the name of James Weldon was apprehended upon a 
charge of High Treason, and he together with such as had been 
previously in custody, were served with copies of the indictments 
and the captions thereof, five days before the first day of this com- 

This day the prisoners who had been in custody at the last com- 
mission were severally arraigned and pleaded Not Guilty.* 

When Flood was put to the bar, 

Mr. Ridgeway moved that the caption of the indictment might be 
read. The court ordered it to be read, but the Clerk of the Crown 
said, he had it not in court : whereupon it was sent for, and being 
brought in, it appeared to be on paper. The counsel then objected 
to its being read, and moved that the indictment be quashed for want 
of a caption. He said the caption ought to make part of the record, 
and be annexed to the indictment Here it is neither — the caption 
is upon paper, whereas the records of this court are always upon 
parchment, as the indictment is, and the caption here is detached 
from the indictment. In several cases in the State Trials, in the 
Rebels' case in Fost. 2, and in Hardy's case, 1794, the caption and 
the indictment form one continued narrative, and it would be absurd 
if it were otherwise. In Fost. 4, the caption states, "the bill here- 
unto annexed is a true bill," &c. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — My lords, the prisoner has been served 
with a copy of the caption and the indictment, which is all that is 
required. He has no right to look into the record. He might as 
well object, that the indictment consisted of several skins of parchment, 
when it is too long to be contained in one. 

The Clerk of the Crown said, that the caption did make part of 
the record. 

Mr. Ridgeway. — If the officer assert as a fact, what every man 
who has sight must be convinced is not so, I know not how to answer. 

The Court said, that upon this point, they must be satisfied with 
the averment of their officer, and desired him to proceed and read the 

This was accordingly done, after which the indictment was read, 
and the prisoner was asked, was he guilty, or not ? 

Mr. Ridgeway said he intended to plead that there was no caption 
to the indictment, but that his client wished for his trial and instructed 

• The prisoners had, upon the first day of the October commission, presented 
petitions, stating that they were ready for their trial and praying they might be 
tried in that commission. 


him to waive objections in point of form, which he had thought it his 
duty to state. 

The prisoner then pleaded Not Guilty. 

James Weldon was then put to the bar and desired to name his 
counsel ; he named Mr. Curran and Mr. M'Nally, who were accord- 
ingly assigned to him. Immediately after this, the Clerk of the 
Crown was proceeding to arraign the prisoner. 

Mr. M'Nally. — My lords, I object to the prisoner's being arraigned 
at this time ; I have only been assigned this morning : it is impossible 
I could be prepared to advise him in his plea. It may be said, he 
was served with a copy of the indictment ; but I apprehend, counsel 
are not at liberty to consult with a prisoner in custody for treason, 
until they are assigned ; therefore I submit, he ought to be allowed 
five days before he is called upon to plead. 

Mr. Attorney-General. — My lords, if the prisoner wants time 
to prepare for his defence, I have no objection to anything that is 
reasonable. He might have consulted with counsel after the copy of 
the indictment was served upon him ; for although only two counsel 
are allowed to plead in court for him, yet he may have as many to 
advise with as he pleases, and directions were given, that counsel 
should be admitted to him. 

Mr. Justice Chamberlain. — In fact this man has not had counsel 
assigned till this morning, and as the Attorney-General does not seem 
to object, I think it would be better to postpone his arraignment. 

Mr. Justice Finucane. — The act of parliament is not peremptory 
as to the assignment of counsel before pleading. 

Mr. Baron George. — No objection is made to allowing the prisoner 

Mr. Attorney-General then said, he intended to have Weldon 
tried first, and therefore all the other trials must be postponed. He 
mentioned Saturday for the arraignment and trial of Weldon, which 
day was accordingly appointed. But on Friday Mr. Attorney- 
General moved to postpone the trial to Monday, lest an objection 
should be made, that the prisoner had not five clear days. 

Mr. Baron George. — There is another reason for postponing the 
trial ; if it began on Saturday it might last till Sunday, which might 
be productive of inconvenience. Therefore let the trial stand for 

Monday, December 21st. 

The prisoner being put to the bar, Mr. M'Nally applied to have 
the caption read. 

Mr. Attorney- General opposed this application ; the prisoner 
is not entitled to have the caption read, he has an attested copy, and 
can avail himself of that. 

Mr. M'Nally cited Fost 2, 228, 230, to show that the caption is 
necessary to assist the prisoner in pleading. 

The Court said the caption ought to be read. The prisoner must 
be furnished with a copy of the whole record ; how can he know 
whether he has such a copy unless the whole record be read. 

The caption was accordingly read and appeared to be engrossed 
upon parchment and annexed to the indictment. 


" Be it remembered, that at an adjournment of a commission of 
Oyer and Terminer and general gaol delivery, held in and for the 
county of the city of Dublin, in that part of the King's Courts, 
Dublin, where the Court of King's Bench usually sits, on Monday 
the 26th day of October, in the year of our Lord God, one thousand 
seven hundred and ninety-five, and in the thirty-sixth year of the 
reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third, King of Great Britain, 
France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith and soforth, before William 
Worthington, Lord Mayor of the said city, Michael Smith, Esq., one 
of the Barons of his Majesty's Court of Exchequer in the said king- 
dom of Ireland, Mathias Finucane, Esq., one of the Justices of his 
Majesty's Court of Common Pleas in the said kingdom of Ireland, 
and Denis George, Esq., one other of the Barons of the said court 
of Exchequer in the kingdom of Ireland, and others, their, fellow 
Justices and Commissioners of our said Lord the King, in and for the 
whole county of the said city of Dublin, assigned by the letters patent 
of our said Lord the King, under the great seal of his said kingdom 
of Ireland, bearing date at Dublin the 20th day of June, in the first 
year of the reign of our said Lord the King, directed to Patrick 
Hamilton, Esq., the then Lord Mayor of the said city of Dublin, and 
the Lord Mayor of the said city for the time being, John Lord Baron 
Bowes of Clonlyon then being Chancellor of the kingdom of Ireland, and 
the Chancellor of the said Lord the King of the said kingdom for the time 
being, Cha worth Earl of Meath, Richard Earl of Ross, Humphrey Earl 
of Lanesborough, Richard Lord Viscount Fitz- William, Sir William 
York, then being Chancellor of the Court of Exchequer of the said Lord 
the King of his said Kingdom of Ireland, and the Chancellor of the 
said Lord the King of his Court of Exchequer for the time being, 
Warden Flood, then being Chief- Justice of the Court of Chief Place 
of our said Lord the King, in his said kingdom, and the Chief- Justice 
of his said Court of Chief Place for the time being, Richard Rigby, 
then Master of the Rolls in the said kingdom, and the Master of the 
Rolls in the said kingdom for the time being, Richard Aston, then 
being Chief-Justice of the Court of Common Pleas of our said Lord 
the King in the said kingdom and the Chief- Justice of the Court of 
Common Pleas for the time being, Edward Willis, then being Chief 
Baron of the Court of Exchequer of the said Lord the King and the 
Chief Baron of the said Court of Exchequer, for the time being, 
Richard Mountney, then being second Baron of the said Court of 
Exchequer, Arthur Dawson, then being third Baron of the said Court 
of Exchequer, Robert French, then being second Justice of the said 
Court of Common Pleas, Robert Marshall, then being third Justice 
of the said Court of Common Pleas, Christopher Robinson, then being 
second Justice of the said Court of Chief Place, William Scott, then 
being third Justice of the said Court of Chief Place ; and the Justices 
of the said Courts of Chief Place and Common Pleas, and the Barons, 
of the said Court of Exchequer, respectively, for the time being and 
others in the said letters named, to enquire by the oaths of good and 
lawful men of the said county of the city of Dublin, and by other 
ways, means and methods whereof the truth may the better be known 
as well within liberties as without, of all treasons, misprisions oi 
treasons, insurrections, rebellions, counterfeits, clippings, washing*, 


unlawful coinings and other falsifying of money of Great Britain or 
other money current in the said kingdom of Ireland by proclamations, 
burnings and of all murders, felonies, manslaughters, killings, robberies, 
burglaries, perjuries, forgeries, rapes, unlawful assemblies, extortions, 
oppressions, riots, routs, crimes, contempts, deceits, injuries, escapes 
and other offences and causes whatsoever as well against the common 
law of the said kingdom of Ireland, as against the form and effect of 
any statute, act ordinance or provision theretofore made, ordained or 
confirmed, by any person or persons within the said county of the city 
of Dublin, in anywise done, committed or perpetrated, or thereafter to 
be done committed or perpetrated, and of all accessaries to the said 
offences, and every of them, within the said county of the city of 
Dublin, as well within liberties as without, by whomsoever and 
howsoever had, done, perpetrated or committed, by any person or 
persons, upon any person or persons, at any time howsoever, and in 
any manner whatsoever, and that the said treasons, and other the 
premises, to hear, examine, discuss, try, finish, execute and determine 
according to the laws and customs of the said kingdom of Ireland, 
and to deliver the gaol of Newgate, in the county of the said city of 
Dublin, of all the prisoners and malefactors therein, as often as occa- 
sion should require. It is presented upon the oath of twelve good 
and lawful men of the body of the said county of the city of Dublin, 
whose names here follow, that is to say: Robert Powell, Daniel 
Dickenson, James Mills, Andrew Callage, Hall Lamb, James Blacker, 
Richard Wilson, William Henry Archer, Joshua Manders, Robert 
Hanna, Francis Hamilton, Mark Bloxham, Lewis Hodglon, John 
Gorman, William Evans, Robert Newell, William Lindsey, William 
Berry, John Duncan, William Crombie, William Duncan, Richard 
Cranfield, Bladen Sweny, in manner and form here following, that is 
to say, 

County of the city of\ " The Jurors of our Lord the King upon 
Dublin, to wit. J their oath present that an open and public 
war, on the 20th day of August, in the thirty-fifth year of the reign 
of our Sovereign Lord George the Third, by the Grace of God, of 
Great Britain, France and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith and 
soforth, and long before, was and ever since hitherto by land and by 
sea, and yet is carried on and prosecuted by the persons exercising 
the powers of government in France, against our most Serene, Illus- 
trious, and Excellent Prince, our said Lord the now King, and that 
James Weldon, of the city of Dublin, Yeoman, in the said county of 
the city of Dublin, a subject of our said Lord the King of his 
kingdom of Ireland, well knowing the premises but not having the 
fear of God in his heart, nor weighing the duty of his allegiance, and 
being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil, as a false traitor 
of our said Lord the King, his supreme, true, lawful, and undoubted Lord 
the cordial love and true obedience which every true and dutiful subject 
of our said Sovereign Lord the King towards him our said Lord the 
King should bear, wholly withdrawing and contriving with all his 
strength, intending the peace and common tranquillity of this 
kingdom of Ireland to disturb, and the government of our said Lord 
the King of this his kingdom of Ireland to subvert, and our said 
Lord the King from the regal state, title, honour, power, imperial 


crown and government of this his kingdom of Ireland to depose and 
deprive, and our said Lord the King to death and final destruction to 
bring, he the said James Weldon, on the 20th day of August, in the 
thirty-fifth year of the reign of our said Lord the King, and on divers 
other days and times, as well before as after that day, at Suffolk-street, 
in the parish of St Andrew, in the city of Dublin, and in the county 
of the said city of Dublin aforesaid, with force and arms, falsely, 
wickedly and traitorously did compass, imagine and intend the said 
Lord the King, then and there his supreme, true and lawful Lord of 
and from the royal state, crown, title, power, and government of this 
his realm of Ireland to depose and wholly deprive, and the said Lord 
the King to kill and put to death, and that to fulfil and bring to 
effect his most evil, wicked and treasonable imaginations and corn- 
passings aforesaid, he the said James Weldon, as such false traitor as 
aforesaid, and during the said war between our said Lord the Sang 
and the said persons exercising the powers of government in France, 
to wit, on the said 20th day of August, in the thirty-fifth year of the 
reign aforesaid, at Suffolk-street aforesaid, in the parish aforesaid, 
and in the county of the city of Dublin aforesaid, with force and 
arms, falsely, maliciously and traitorously, did join, unite and associate 
himself to and with divers false traitors to the jurors unknown, and 
did then and there with such false traitors to the jurors aforesaid 
unknown, enter into and become one of a party and society formed 
and associated under the denomination of Defenders, with design and 
for the end and purpose of aiding, assisting and adhering to the said 
persons so exercising the powers of government in France, and so 
waging war as aforesaid, against our said Sovereign Lord the now King, 
in case they should invade or cause to be invaded this his kingdom 
of Ireland ; and afterwards and during the said war between our 
said Lord the King, and the said persons, so exercising the powers of 
government in France, and enemies of our said Lord the King, on 
the 20th day of August, in the said thirty-fifth year of the reign of 
our said Lord the King, and on divers other days, as well before as 
after that day, with force and arms at Suffolk-street aforesaid, in the 
parish of St. Andrew aforesaid, and county of the said city of Dublin 
aforesaid; he the said James Weldon as such false traitor as aforesaid, 
in further prosecution of his treason and traitorous purposes aforesaid, 
did with divers other false traitors, whose names are to the Jurors of 
our said Lord the King as yet unknown, then and there meet and 
assemble to confer, treat and consult for and about the adhering to, 
joining, aiding and assisting of the said persons exercising the powers 
of government in France as aforesaid, and being enemies of our said 
Lord the King as aforesaid, in case they should invade this his 
kingdom of Ireland, and afterwards to wit, on the 20th day at 
August, in the thirty-fifth year of the reign aforesaid, and on divers 
other days as well before as after that day, with force and arms at 
Suffolk-street aforesaid, in the parish of St Andrew aforesaid, in the 
city of Dublin aforesaid, and county of the city of Dublin aforesaid, 
the said James Weldon, as such false traitor as aforesaid, in farther 
prosecution of his treason and traitorous purposes aforesaid, did then 
and there, with divers other false traitors, whose names to the said 
jurors are yet unknown, wickedly and traitorously associate and unite 


himself to and with divers false traitors unknown to the jurors afore- 
said, and did along with said false traitors to the jurors aforesaid 
unknown, enter into and become one of a party and society united 
and associated under the denomination of Defenders, with design and 
for the end and purpose of deposing, subverting and overturning the 
government of this kingdom as by law established, and so associated 
and united as aforesaid, did then and there, and on divers other days 
and times as well before as after that day, meet and assemble, to 
confer, consult and deliberate on and about the means and measures 
for affecting his aforesaid traitorous and nefarious designs and pur* 
poses. And afterwards to wit, on the said 20th day of August, in 
the said thirty-fifth year of the reign aforesaid, and on divers other 
days and times, as well before as after that day, with force and arms 
at Suffolk-street aforesaid, in the parish of St Andrew aforesaid, and 
county of the city of Dublin aforesaid, the said James Weldon as 
such false traitor as aforesaid, in further prosecution of his treason 
and traitorous purposes, did then and there, with divers other false 
traitors, whose names to the said jurors are yet unknown, wickedly 
and traitorously associate and unite with divers other false traitors, to 
the said jurors as yet unknown, and did along with such false traitors 
to the jurors aforesaid unknown, enter into and become one of a party 
and society, united and associated under the denomination of 
Defenders, with design and for the end and purpose of subverting 
and overturning the Protestant religion in this kingdom by law esta- 
blished, and so associated and united as aforesaid, did then and there, 
on divers other days and times as well before as after that day, meet 
and assemble with divers false traitors, to the jurors as yet unknown, 
confer, consult and deliberate, on the means and measures for affecting 
his aforesaid traitorous and nefarious design and purposes. And 
afterwards to wit, on the said 20th day of August, in the said thirty- 
fifth year of the reign aforesaid, and on divers other days as well 
before as after that day, with force and arms at Suffolk-street afore- 
said, in the parish of St Andrew aforesaid, in the city of Dublin 
aforesaid, and in the county of the city of Dublin aforesaid, the said 
James Weldon as such false traitor as aforesaid, in further prosecution 
of his treason and traitorous purposes aforesaid, and then and there, 
with divers false traitors, whose names to the said jurors are yet 
unknown, wickedly and traitorously, in order to enlist and procure 
one William Lawler, who aiding and assisting to the said persons so 
exercising the powers of government in France, and enemies of our 
said Lord the King as aforesaid, in case they should invade or cause 
to be invaded this his kingdom of Ireland, did then and there traitor- 
ously administer an unlawful oath to the said William Lawler, to the 
purport following, that is to say, — " I am concerned. So am L With 
who? With the National Convention, (meaning thereby the National 
Convention of France.) What is your designs? On freedom. 
Where is your designs ? The foundation of it is grounded in a rock. 
What is your designs? Cause to queal all nations, dethrone all 

gs, (meaning thereby all kings,) to plant the true religion in the 

hearts, be just Where did the cock crow when the whole world 
heard him? In France. What is the pass word? Eliphismatis." 
And afterwards to wit, on the said 20th day of August, in the thirty- 


fifth year of the reign aforesaid, and on divers other days, as well 
before as after that day, with force and arms at Suffolk-street afore- 
said, in the parish of St Andrew aforesaid, in the city of Dublin 
aforesaid, and county of the city of Dublin aforesaid, the said James 
Weldon as such false traitor as aforesaid, in further prosecution of 
his treason and traitorous purposes aforesaid, did then and there, with 
divers other false traitors, whose names to the said jurors are yet 
unknown, wickedly and traitorously, in order to enlist, corrupt and 
procure one William Lawler, to be aiding and assisting to the said 
persons, so exercising the power of government in France, and 
enemies of our said Lord the King as aforesaid, in case they should 
invade, or cause to be invaded, this his kingdom of Ireland ; and to 
bind and engage himself thereto, did then and there traitorously 
administer to and instruct the said William Lawler, to rehearse and 
repeat an oath, the said James Weldon having then and there, for 
that purpose sworn him the said William Lawler, a certain profession, 
declaration, and catechism to the purport following, that is to say ; 
" I am concerned. So am L With who? With the National Con- 
vention, (meaning thereby the National Convention of France.) 
What is your designs ? On freedom. Where is your designs ? The 
foundation of it is grounded in a rock. What is your designs? 

Cause to queal all nations, and dethrone all gs, (meaning thereby 

all kings,) to plant the true religion in the hearts — be just. Where 
did the cock crow when all the world heard him? In France. What 
is the pass word ? Eliphismatis." And afterwards, to wit, on the 
said 20th day of August, in the said thirty-fifth year of the reign 
aforesaid, and on divers other days, as well before as after that day, 
with force and arms at Suffolk-street aforesaid, in the parish of St 
Andrew aforesaid, in the city of Dublin aforesaid, and county of the 
city of Dublin aforesaid ; the said James Weldon as such false traitor 
as aforesaid, in further prosecution of his treason and traitorous pur- 
poses aforesaid, did then and there with divers other false traitors, 
whose names are to the said Jurors as yet unknown ; wickedly and 
traitorously in order to encourage, corrupt, procure and enlist the said 
William Lawler, to become one of a party and society, formed for 
the purpose of subverting the government of this kingdom of Ireland, 
as by law established ; did then and there traitorously encourage, 
corrupt, procure and enlist the said William Lawler to join himself to 
and become one of a party or society formed and united for the 
purpose of subverting the government of the kingdom of Ireland, as 
by law established. And afterwards, to wit, on the 25th day of 
August, in the said thirty-fifty year of the reign aforesaid, and on 
divers other days, as well before as after that day, with force and 
arms, at Suffolk-street aforesaid, in the parish of St Andrew afore- 
said, in the city of Dublin aforesaid, and in the county of the city of 
Dublin aforesaid, the said James Weldon as such false traitor as 
aforesaid, in further prosecution of his treason and traitorous purposes 
aforesaid, did then and there with divers other false traitors whose 
names to the said jurors are yet unknown, wickedly and traitorously, 
in order to enlist and procure one William Lawler to be aiding and 
assisting to the persons exercising the powers of government in France, 
and enemies of our said Lord the King as aforesaid, in case they should 


invade or cause to be invaded this his kingdom of Ireland, did then 
I and there, traitorously administer an unlawful oath to the said William 
' Lawler, to the purport following, that is to say, — * I, William Lawler, 
| of my own good will and consent, do swear to be true to his Majesty 
i King George the Third, whilst I live under the same government — 
More, I swear to be true, aiding and assistant to every brother bound 
to me by this application, and in every form of article from its first 
foundation, January 1790 — And in every amendment hitherto — And 
will be obedient to my committees, superior commanders, and officers, 
in all lawful proceedings and not otherwise, nor will I consent to any 
society or any brother of an unlawful character, but will observe and 
obey the laws and regulations of my committee to whom I belong 
determined brother, nor in any violation of the laws, but to protect 
my life and property, and the lives and properties of my brothers — 
And I will subject myself to my committee-men in all lawful pro- 
ceedings and not otherwise, during the reign of his Majesty King 
George the Third, whilst I live under the same government — I 
likewise swear I will meet when and where my committee will please, 
and will spend what is pleasing to president and company — I will not 
quarrel nor strike any person whatsomever, knowing him to be such, 
but will live lovingly and friendly with every one under that deno- 
mination — I will not rise any fight or quarrel on account of my present 
intras, or back that for unto my brotherhood/ *And the said jurors 
of our said Lord the King upon their oath further present, that an 
open and public war on the said 20th day of August, in the thirty- 
fifth year of the reign of our said Lord George the Third and soforth, 
and long before and ever since hitherto by land and by sea, hath been 
and is carried on and prosecuted by the said persons exercising the 
powers of government in France, against our most serene, illustrious 
tnd excellent prince George the Third, now king of Ireland, and 
soforth. And that the said James Weldon a subject of our said Lord 
the King of his kingdom of Ireland, well knowing the premises, not 
having the fear of God in his heart, nor weighing the duty of his 
allegiance, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the 
devil, as a false traitor against our most serene and illustrious and 
excellent Prince George the Third, now King of Ireland, and soforth ; 
and contriving, and with all his strength intending the peace of this 
his kingdom of Ireland to disturb, and the government of this his 
kingdom of Ireland to subvert, he the said James Weldon, on the 20th 
<ky of August, in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of our said Lord 
the now King, and on divers other days and times as well before as 
after that day, with force and arms at Suffolk-street aforesaid, in the 
parish of St Andrew aforesaid, in the city of Dublin aforesaid, and 
comity of the said city of Dublin aforesaid, unlawfully and traitorously 
▼as adhering to, aiding and comforting the persons exercising the 
powers of government in France, and being enemies of our said Lord 
the King as aforesaid, and that in the prosecution, performance and 
execution of the said traitorous adhering of the said James Weldon 
to the persons exercising the powers of government in France, 
tod being enemies of our said Lord the present King, to wit, 

• Second Count. 

306 TBIAL6 OF 

on the said 20th day of August, in the said thirty-fifth year of the 
reign aforesaid, at Suffolk-street aforesaid, in the parish aforesaid, 
and in the county of the city of Dublin aforesaid, with force and arms 
falsely, maliciously and traitorously did join, unite and associate 
himself to and with divers false traitors to the jurors as yet unknown, 
and did then and there with such false traitors to the jurors aforesaid 
as yet unknown, enter into and become one of a party and society 
formed and associated under the denomination of Defenders, with 
design and for the purpose of aiding, assisting and adhering to the 
said persons so exercising the powers of government in France, and 
so waging war as aforesaid with our said Sovereign Lord the now 
King, in case they should invade or cause to be invaded this his 
kingdom of Ireland, and afterwards and during the said war between 
our said Lord the King and the said persons so exercising the powers 
of government in France, and enemies of our said Lord the King, on 
the 20th day of August, in the said thirty-fifth year of the reign of 
our said Lord the King, and on divers other days as well before as 
after that day, with force and -arms at Suffolk-street aforesaid, in the 
parish of St. Andrew aforesaid, and county of the said city of Dublin 
aforesaid, he the said James Weldon as such false traitor as aforesaid, 
in further prosecution of his treason and traitorous purposes aforesaid, 
did with divers other false traitors whose names are to the jurors of 
our said Lord the King as yet unknown, then and there meet and 
assemble to confer, treat and consult for and about the adhering to, 
joining, aiding and assisting of the said persons exercising the powen 
of government in France as aforesaid, and being enemies of our said 
Lord the King as aforesaid, in case they should invade or cause to be 
invaded this his kingdom of Ireland." 

The same overt acts were stated in support of the second count, 
and in the same manner as set forth in the first The indictment 
concluded in this way — " against the duty of the allegiance of the 
said James Weldon, against the peace of our said Lord the King, bis 
crown and dignity, and against the form of the statute in such case 
made and provided." 

Clerk or thb Crown. — How say you, James Weldon, are yon 
guilty of this treason in manner and form as you stand indicted and 
arraigned or not ? 

Mr. M'Naixy. — My lords, I submit to your lordships that this 
indictment must be quashed, the caption annexed to it, being illegal 
both as to form and substance. The first error that appears upon the 
face of the caption, is that it lays no venue ; it does not show whether 
the bill was found by the grand jury of the city or the county of 
Dublin* I am aware that by a statute this court is taken to be in the 
city and the county. LocaUy it is in the county of Dublin : artifi- 
cially it is in either ; but the caption does not set forth any county in 
the margin : if it did, I admit it might be unnecessary to repeat that 
county in the caption ; but all that is stated in the body of the caption 
is, " the place where King's Bench usually sits," without averring it 
to be in the city of Dublin, where the offence is supposed to be com- 
mitted. 2dly. The caption states an adjournment of a session, bat 
does not state when the original session began, Str. 865. 2 Hawk. 362. 
3dly. It does not state that the grand jury were sworn and charged, 



4 Bl. Com. Foet 4* 2 Hal. P. C. 167. s. 6, 9. The caption Mates 
that it is presented upon the oath of twelve men "that is to say," and 
it sets oat the names of twenty-three ; this is repugnant, for the latter 
part is contradictory to the former. 4thly. The caption does not state 
the additions of the jurors ; the precedent in the appendix to 4 BL 
Odd. states the foreman to be a baronet and the rest are esquires. 
The necessity of the addition is obvious ; it is to ascertain the identity 
of the grand juror, for many objections may lie against him, he might 
be an outlaw, convicted of treason or felony and consequently disabled 
from serving upon a grand jury* 

Mr. Attobnet-Genbbal rose to answer these objections, but 
wis stopped by the court. 

Mr. Justice Chamberlain. — The court do not think the objections 
founded. It is taken for granted, that the caption is part of the 
indictment : it is not ; — it is only the style of the court, and where 
captions have been quashed, it has been upon certiorari, or writ of 

The prisoner then pleaded in abatement — "And the said James 
WeUon says, that he is not a yeoman, but a soldier in his Majesty's 
7th regiment of dragoons." 

Mr. Attobaet-Gehebal*— I demur to this plea. 

Mr. Justice Chambeblain. — Then you admit that he is not a 

Mr. Attobney-Gehebau — Is the plea so, my lord ? I had mis- 
conceived it 

Then the plea was read, and after some conference among the 
counsel for the crown, Mr. Attobnby-Gehebal replied, and averred 
"that the prisoner is a yeoman, and this he prayed might be tried by 
the country." The counsel for the prisoner joined the similiter — 
"And the said James Weldon doth so likewise." 

CotraT. — You pray the usual process. 

Counsel on both sides, said certainly ; and the Attorney-Genebal 
prayed that a jury might be returned instanter. 

It then became a question, to what time the plea related ? — whether 
H meant, that he was a soldier at the time when the plea was put in 
—or at the time when the indictment was found ? 

Mr. Cubbak. — The meaning of the plea is, that the prisoner was 
wrer a yeoman, either at the time of his arrest, the time the indict- 
ment was taken, or at this day. It is a sort of objection to the 
identity that he is not the man presented by the grand inquest as a 
yeoman, for he is a soldier. 

A pannel was then returned by the Sheriff, and twelve persons 
"tre sworn to try the issue, whether the prisoner be a yeoman. 

Mr. Attobhey-Gsvebal. — Gentlemen of the jury — The prisoner 
v indicted for high treason, and he is described in the indictment as 
* yeoman, an issue is now joined upon that description and if it be 
w for him, the indictment must be quashed. The law requires, 
that an indictment must set forth what a party is ; the prisoner is 
facribed as a yeoman; we shall produce a witness to show what he 

* In Townley's Case (18 How. St. Tr. 334) the jury are stated to have been 
"•worn and charged to enquire*" 


is, and you will determine whether he be a yeoman, or not The 
objection is as frivolous as can be conceived; it is a disgrace to 
justice that such objections are allowed, and I say this to shew you 
that if there be any doubt in the case, you will lean against the plea. 
What was the meaning of the word yeoman an hundred years ago, 
or what was the meaning of the Saxon word geomman, is not now 
the subject of enquiry. We will shew that the prisoner is a soldier 
in a regiment of horse ; and the words yeoman and labourer have 
been applied indifferently as sufficient descriptions of persons in his 
situation. The counsel for the prisoner may shew from black letter 
books, what was the meaning of the word yeoman many years ago ; 
but it is sufficient to describe a man to a common intent, and in the 
known use of words at the time of the indictment found. The word 
yeoman is applied to many different situations, as a person having 
land and entitled to serve upon a jury. If that be the appropriated 
meaning, it has not been so taken lately. There are yeomen of the 
King's guards — so are the attendants upon the Lord Lieutenanfr 
person, and a variety of others in different situations. Therefore the 
insignificant word cannot be now made a ground of objection, this 
man being described with sufficient particularity. An objection 
might be made to a description of a man as one kind of artificer, when 
in truth he was of another, but the same objection cannot be made to 
the words yeoman or labourer. 

Tresham Gregg, sworn. — Examined by the Pbime-Sbbjbabt. 

Q. Are you gaoler of Newgate ? A. I am. 

Q. Do you blow the prisoner ? A. I know the prisoner, James 
Weldon, since he was committed to gaol. 

Q. How long since is that ? A. About a month. 

Q. Had you any conversation with him ? A. I asked him, what 
business he was of. He said he was a breeches-maker from the 
county of Meath, but that he had been a soldier for two years ; that 
he. was a soldier in the Black Horse and was taken in Cork. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Cubban. 

Q. By virtue of your oath, do you know what a yeoman is? A I 
do not. 

Mr. Cubban. — Then you may go down, and enquire before you 
come to prove that a prisoner is a yeoman. 

Here the evidence closed. 

Mr. Cubban. — Gentlemen of the jury, — the law requires that there 
should be a determinate degree of certainty in the specification, not 
only of every crime, with which any man is charged, but also of the 
person charged : and it is not for us to say, that any certainty which 
may be required in favour of life, or any objection permitted by the 
law, is frivolous, or disgraceful to the jurisprudence of the country. 
It is a known fact, that the certainty of description which has been 
adhered to in this country, has been departed from in a neighbouring 
country, and hundreds of innocent persons have perished for want of 
it This man is indicted as a yeoman, and if you have any doubt 
upon the case, the uniform principle of the law is, that in such case 
you should lean in favour of the prisoner. But gentlemen, there is 


no doubt in the case ; jour oath is, to try whether this man be a 
yeoman. Our society is divided into different degrees, and the 
inferior orders with regard to one another, and the peers who are 
above them have correlative appellations. The name of yeoman is a 
known and defined name. It is not to black letter that I shall refer the 
court, or to books that are as little known as the pronunciation of the 
word : but to the commentaries of Judge Blackstone, who has written 
not many years ago. 1 BL Com. 406 — "A yeoman is he that 
hath free land of forty shillings by the year; who was anciently 
thereby qualified to serve on juries, vote for knights of the shire, and 
do any other act, where the law requires one, that is probus 2$ legalti 
homo." He adds in the ensuing paragraph, " the rest of the com- 
monality are tradesmen, artificers and labourers ; who (as well as all 
others) must, in pursuance of the statute 1 Hen. V. c. 5, be stiled by 
the name and addition of their estate, degree, or mystery, and the 
place to which they belong, or where they have been conversant, in 
all original writs of actions, personal appeals and indictments, upon 
which process of outlawry may be awarded ; in order as it should 
seem, to prevent any clandestine, or mistaken outlawry, by reducing 
to a specific certainty the person who is the object of its process." 
Thus distinguishing the man of property in land, from those who earn 
money by trades, as a tradesman or artificer, who must be described 
by their degree, or mystery. From this respectable authority and the 
plain sense of the case, the jury will find for the prisoner. You are 
not to calculate consequences. If the man is entitled to the benefit of 
the objection, you are sworn to give it to him, and you are not to 
depart from that oath upon being told, that the objection is frivolous, 
or disgraceful to justice. 

Mr. Justice Chambebxain. — I wish that counsel in speaking to 
this point, would argue, whether we are to advise the jury upon the 
common acceptation of the- word, or whether we are bound by the 
strict letter of the law ? 

Mr. Baron George. — Shakspeare seems to have considered a 
soldier synonimous with yeoman, and Dr. Johnson, in his second 
definition of the word, says, " it seems to have been anciently a kind 
of ceremonious title given to soldiers; whence we have still yeoman 
of the guard." 

" Tall yeomen seemed they and of great might, 
And were enraged ready still for fight.— Spenseb. 

" Whose limbs were made in England shew as here, 
The mettle of your pasture." — Shakspeare, Hen. V. 

Mr. Prime* Sbbjeakt. — My Lords, yeoman is at this day the 
general description of a man who is not a gentleman, or an esquire ; 
for if a man has acquired no addition from his mystery, trade, or craft, 
be is a yeoman. The rules of law must adapt themselves to the grow- 
ing occasions of the times, and that man will be effectually described aa 
a yeoman, who has acquired no other addition, by which he could be 
discriminated. In common reason, it is to be considered as the general 
description of a man, who has not acquired any other. A soldier 
Boost unquestionably cannot be a description under which a man could 
be indicted. Burgess is not a good description — nor is citizen, nor 

310 TRIALS or 

servant ; neither can a soldier, because it is not general enough 
upon which to arraign a man. 

Mr. Solicitob-Gbnebal — The single question is, whether under 
the statute of additions, 1 Hen. V. this description be sufficient ? The 
authority of Shakspeare and Johnson is decisive to shew, that a soldkr 
is a yeoman. 2 Inst. 669. If a man be named a yeoman, he cannot 
abate the writ Is this such a name as the prisoner may be known 
by ? He has given no evidence of his being of any art, or mystery, 
and it is impossible for those concerned for the crown to know in all 
cases, the true art, or mystery of a person accused. Before the statute 
of Hen. V. no description was necessary, and it was enacted to remove 
objections made in outlawries. But where a party is forthcoming, 
the argument is done away. Yeoman is a generic term, including 
many degrees,' and is fully sufficient to answer the intention of the 

Mr. Saubin, same side. — This plea is founded upon the statute of 
additions, by which it was provided that persons indicted, should be 
described either by their state and degree, or by their mystery, or 
trade ; if they were of any mystery or trade. Ever since the statutes 
was enacted, it has been in the option of the prosecutor to describe 
the person accused by his rank, or his trade ; it is not necessary to 
describe him by both. From Lord Coke's argument upon the statute 
it appears that state or degree mean one and the same thing ; " The 
state or degree wherein a subject standeth." There are many persons 
who have no trade and who must be described by some rank. A 
soldier is no trade, and he stands in the nature of a servant taken into 
the pay of the crown, and does not come within the description of 
mystery, or trade — a servant is not of any mystery or trade. See 
then the alternative offered to the prosecutor. Where a party has no 
trade, or mystery, he must be described by his state or degree in the 
community. What are they ? If under the rank of nobility, they are 
divided into baronets, knights, esquires, gentlemen and yeomen, and 
there is no other description under the rank of nobility by which he 
could be described. Here we have shewn that this man was not of a 
trade by which he could be described, and therefore he must be de- 
scribed by his rank and condition, that is, a yeoman ; and if he be not 
a yeoman, of what other rank is he ? 

Mr. Justice Chamberlain. — Is there any precedent of an indict- 
ment, describing a man as a soldier ? 

Mr. Justice Finucane. — It appears from Kelyng, that sailor is 
a good addition, and Hawkins, in explaining the word mystery, says, 
" art, trade, or occupation." 

Mr. Kells and Mr. Buxton said a few words on the part of the 
prosecution. There being no precedent of an indictment against a 
man, as a soldier, was a strong argument to shew it was no good addi- 
tion, and as to sailor, it may be observed, that it is a sort of mystery, 
for sailors serve a regular apprenticeship. 

Mr. Justice Chamberlain. — The inclination of some of the court, 
indeed I may say it is, at present, the opinion of all the court, that 
yeoman within the common acceptation of the word, is a sufficient 
description of the person. We mean to tell the jury so, and after that 
to adjourn the court, and take the opinion of all the judges this even- 


ing ; and in case we should be wrong in the opinion now given, we 
shill take their advice how to proceed* 

Gentlemen of the jury, — the issue you are to decide upon is— 
Whether the prisoner is a yeoman according to the strict legal defini- 
tion of the word ? Upon the authority of Judge Blackstone, who is 
certainly a very high authority in the law, the prisoner does not 
appear to be a yeoman. Bat according to the best writers in the 
English language, he is a yeoman. " It seems to have been an ancient 
kind of ceremonious title given to soldiers, yeomen of the guard." 
Our present opinion is, that entitling the prisoner by a general title 
of courtesy is sufficient within the statute of additions — All society is 
divided into peers, baronets, knights, esquires, gentlemen, and yeomen, 
tradesmen, and artificers. At the time of finding this indictment, 
which is the material time for you to attend to, the prisoner was not 
an artificer. He had been bred a breeches-maker, but two years 
before he had given up that and became a soldier, so that, at the time 
of finding the bill, he could not be entitled a tradesman, or artificer, 
nor a gentleman, nor an esquire. Therefore under the common 
acceptation of the word, I think him sufficiently described, and I am 
strongly fortified by this circumstance, that no precedent is produced 
where a man is described as a soldier in an indictment. There may 
be a reasen for sailors, because they serve an apprenticeship. Upon 
the best English authorities, yeoman is a title of courtesy. If we are 
wrong in this opinion, we shall be set right by the judges, who will 
he summoned this evening. 

The jury retired, and affcer some deliberation, brought in a verdict 
that the prisoner is a yeoman. 

The court immediately adjourned. 

Tuesday, December 22, 1795. 

Mr. Justice Chamberlain. — We are to inform the prisoner and 
his counsel, that nine of the judges met at Lord Clonmel's, and they 
were unanimously of opinion that the direction given to the jury was 

The prisoner then pleaded, Not Guilty. 


Sir Edward Crofton, Bart. William Sparrow, merchant. 

William Bury, Esq. James French, merchant. 

William Cope, Esq. Ralph Mulhern, merchant. 

Morgan Crofton, Esq. Henry Pettigrew, merchant. 

Rawden Hautenville, Esq. William Blair, merchant. 

Thomas Read, merchant. John Smith, merchant. 

The prisoner was then given in charge to the jury by the Clerk of 
the Crown, who read the whole indictment 

Mr. Ruxtoit opened the pleadings. 

Mr. Attobney-Genbbal. — My lords, and gentlemen of the jury. 
In this case it will not be necessary for me to do more than state the 
several circumstances, which may be material to explain the evidence 
that will be produced; and even this statement is rendered necessary 
rather from the importance of the case, than any difficulty, which will 
occur. Were I to follow my own discretion, the case is so simple as 


to need no statement, but merely to produce the witnesses upon the 
table. Gentlemen, the prisoner stands charged with the highest 
crime known to the law ; the indictment states two species of that 
crime, 1st, compassing and imagining the death of the King: — 2dly, 
with adhering to the enemies of the King. Gentlemen, the charge 
of compassing the death of the King, it may be necessary to explain 
in a few words ; very few I shall use, because it will be the duty of 
the court to explain to you, the law upon that subject ; therefore I 
shall only say so much as will enable your minds to apply the evidence 
to the charge stated in the indictment* The law has made it a capital 
offence to compass, or imagine the death of the King. Our mild 
laws, gentlemen, make the imagination of no other offence penal ; — 
the crime must be committed in every other case. But the person of 
the King is sacred : So much depends upon his life, that for the 
sake of the public, their tranquillity, the preservation of their lives 
and properties, the law has guarded the life of the King in a peculiar 
manner. Any act, that in its nature tends to bring the life of the 
sovereign into danger, will support the charge of compassing his 
death. It is not necessary that the party accused shall have enter- 
tained the design of putting the King to actual death — of depriving 
him of life : — it is sufficient in the eye of the law, if the man has 
determined to act in such a manner as to bring that to pass. As to 
levy war — to change the government, which cannot be undertaken 
without hazarding the King's life — to bring war upon the kingdom 
must expose his life ; and even though the party had in his own mind 
predetermined, not to put the King to death, yet, if he does those 
acts, which endanger his life, he is guilty. But, gentlemen, the law, 
which is thus careful of the sovereign's life, guards with equal care 
the lives of the subjects, who may be accused of intending to commit 
such a crime. Though the law makes the imagining the King's 
death a crime, yet it takes care that it shall be proved by such 
circumstances as evince the fact of the intention. There must be 
what is called an overt act stated upon the indictment ; and that overt 
act must be proved, from whence it can be collected, that the design 
was taken to compass and imagine the King's death. 

The other species of treason with which the prisoner is charged, is 
adhering to the enemies of the King — to persons in a state of war 
with these realms. Gentlemen, it is needless to say anything in 
explaining the nature of this crime : — it speaks itself. These, gentle- 
men, are the two charges, that he did compass the King's death — 
that he adhered to the King's enemies. Adhering to the King's 
enemies is evidence also of the compassing of the death of the King;, 
because it is impossible to adhere to the enemies of the King without 
exposing that sacred life to danger. Gentlemen, I shall state the 
overt acts which are to support these charges. There are eight of 
them. If any one of them be proved, and the inference be drawn 
from it, which the indictment charges, though there be no evidence 
of the other seven, the prisoner must be found guilty. The first overt 
act states, that he associated with divers traitors unknown, and 
became one of a party under the denomination of Defenders for the 
purpose of assisting and adhering to the persons exercising the powers 
of government in France. The second is, that he assembled with 



others to consult about adhering to the French. Thirdly, that he 
associated with persons called Defenders for the purpose of overturning 
the government of this kingdom as by law established. The fourth 
overt act is that he united with Defenders for the purpose of over- 
turning the Protestant religion. Fifthly, that he enlisted one William 
Lawler to aid the persons exercising the powers of government in 
France, and administered to him an oath, upon which I shall presently 
make some observations. Sixth overt act states, that he enlisted 
Lawler to adhere to the French, should they invade this kingdom, 
and that he administered a catechism for that purpose. The seventh 
is, that he enlisted, corrupted and procured Lawler to become one of 
a party formed for the purpose of subverting the government. Eighth, 
that he enlisted him for the purpose of overturning the Protestant 
religion. Such, gentlemen, are the facts to be proved against the 
prisoner at the bar. I have stated the outlines of them. Some, or 
one of them must be proved, to sustain the charge. The same overt 
acts are laid as applicable to each of the species of treason charged 
against the prisoner. 

Gentlemen, having stated, thus briefly, the charge and the nature 
of it, it becomes my duty to state the evidence that will be produced 
to sustain that charge. Before, however, I enter into the particulars 
of that evidence, it may not be improper to call to your recollection 
the state of- things in this country at the time this offence is alleged 
to have been committed. In doing this, gentlemen, I shall state 
what is a notorious historical fact — what cannot be excluded from 
your minds — every man in the community must be impressed with it. 
For some years there have existed in this country, a number of 
persons, associated for wicked and atrocious purposes, styling them- 
selves " Defenders." They have from time to time for the last four 
or five years infested almost every part of this, in that respect, unhappy 
country. It has appeared in various trials in the different provinces, 
what the nature of the association of those wretches is: — it has 
appeared with what designs they associated, and though those who 
excited them have not appeared to public view, yet the manner of 
exciting them, and the object are but too plain. Since the year 1790, 
there have appeared in many counties, particularly in the northern, 
eastern and western counties, many persons under the denomination 
of Defenders, committing various outrages, and who have directed 
their attempts most particularly to disarm their fellow subjects. It 
has appeared in every investigation of this offence, that there have 
been in various counties, a number of persons, calling themselves 
" Committee Men," who have guided the wretches they have deluded, 
directed their actions, and prescribed their movements ; — pointed out 
the different courses they were to take, and administered oaths, " to 
be true and faithful to the committee men," — " to obey the laws of 
the committee in all things," — and these oaths they have guarded 
with such equivocations, that while they bound the parties to the 
commission of the most atrocious crimes, the oath should appear to be 
merely an oath of allegiance to the King, and submission to the laws 
of the country. These committees have existed in many counties of 
the kingdom, associating the lower orders of the people, by holding 
out promises to seduce uneducated men ; — telling the poor that they 

314 TBIAL8 OF 

would enjoy the property of the rich ; that they were no longer to 
exist by their industry, and representing what they knew most be 
impossible, that all men were equal. If it were possible that such 
equality could be effected, the consequence would be the subversion 
of all government, and that all would be reduced to a savage state. 
Such, gentlemen, were the topics held out. In other places they 
propagated different things — and they dared to use the sacred name 
of religion, having no religion themselves, to forward the purposes of 
their wicked imposition. It has appeared in too many instances, and 
I am shocked while I state it, that these miscreants endeavoured to 
instil hatred and animosity into the minds of their converts against 
their fellow christians, though differing in some speculative points, 
professing the same religion, worshipping the same God, and seeking 
redemption through the same Jesus Christ. They represented, that 
their Protestant brethren were to be destroyed ; and this they 
attempted at a time when the legislature has been session after session, 
endeavouring to put them upon a footing with themselves ; to do 
away differences and to put an end to distrust. While I say this, 
gentlemen, let no man imagine, that we mean to impute anything of 
this kind to the general body professing the Roman Catholic religion. 
No, gentlemen, we attribute these abominable practices to others, 
who are seeking their own impious views. It is a subject so abhorrent 
to my nature, that I would not have mentioned it, but that it must 
come out in evidence ; for I would not suffer a word to escape my lips, 
that would tend to divide those, who are bound to that law, and that 
government which we all enjoy. The conduct of the committee men 
is historically known ; it is proved in Connaught, it is proved in 
several counties of the north and in Leinster ; and it is wonderful, 
that I have seen circumstances proved in the most distant parts of the 
west, corresponding with circumstances arising in the distant parts of 
the north and east — manifesting most clearly, that there was a united 
scheme to subvert the religion and the government of the country, 
by exciting sedition among the lower orders of the people. How 
these schemes were set on foot so universally, whether by French 
gold, or democratic clubs, is neither for you, gentlemen, nor me now 
to enquire — whether by the United Society of Dublin, or Belfast, I 
will not trouble you at present with taking notice, or enquiring. I 
only wish to impress upon your minds, that it is a fact historically 
known, that there does exist in the country such a scheme of rebellion 
and insurrection. Further to forward this plan, they have levied 
money from the poor wretches they seduced. A man sworn pays a 
shilling to the person administering the oath. The committee man 
receives the shilling, and if he swear many, the consequence is, a 
considerable income. In fact, the practice became common, and they 
spoke of a committee man in a village as they would of a shoemaker. 
" Where are you going Y* « To the Defender-maker." And to that 
Defender-maker the person paid a shilling, as if he had obtained 
something valuable. 

So far, gentlemen, it is necessary I should state these facts to you. 
I hope in doing so, I do not overpass my duty. I do not mean to 
rouse your passions upon this subject ; and if I did, I could not The 
statement I have made cannot affect the prisoner, unless it be proved 


that he is such a man as is charged by the indictment, and h was 
necessary to state what I have, that you might understand the dangers 
and proceedings of the Defenders, which will be proved in evidence. 

Gentlemen, the crime with which the prisoner is charged, is of the 
most awful nature in its consequences both to him, and to the public. 
The charge is this, that the man at the bar is guilty of a crime, the 
end and object of which was the destruction of the government under 
which we live — the destruction of the life and liberty of every man 
living under it — the destruction of our laws, which have been the 
envy of every one for seven hundred years. But this crime is greatly 
aggravated, if it be capable of aggravation, by the peculiar situation 
in which the prisoner stood. The prisoner at the bar was, at the 
time the offence was committed, a dragoon serving his Majesty in the 
7th regiment of Guards, then in this city — placed in a situation to 
defend his country — sworn in the presence of God, for whom he 
seems to entertain a profound reverence, to defend his King and 
country. Such is the man, upon whose life your verdict is now to 
pass. Gentlemen, having stated the situation in which he was placed, 
and the duty he particularly owed to his King and country — having 
stated that he had solemnly sanctioned that duty in the presence of 
his God, it is the less probable, that he should commit the crime. If 
however he shall have committed the crime, then he will be less an 
object of mercy. Gentlemen, it will be proved, that this man adminis- 
tered an oath to a person of the name of William Lawler, which oath 
went to bind that person to be a Defender ; — and now having men* 
tioned the name of the person, who is the witness for the prosecution 
upon this trial ; I shall state to you the nature of the evidence he is 
to give, and the manner in which the Crown became acquainted with 
the designs of the conspirators. 

William Lawler, the witness, is a native of this city ; he is by trade 
a gilder ; served a regular apprenticeship to that trade — after which 
he practised at it for some time in this city, and then went to London 
where his father had removed. There he had the misfortune, and it 
is common to others as well as him, to read the words of that cele- 
brated apostle Mr. Paine — to have his imagination somewhat heated 
by his writings, and he became a member of the London Corresponding 
Society, associated to improve our constitution.* There his principles 
were not much improved; he returned to Dublin, and became a 
member of a reading society : — it was called the Telegraphe Society ; 
and also of another society of an admirable name, if it imported 
nothing more ; that was the Philanthropic Society, where there were 
readings, and instructions, which if followed would have left the jury 
no constitution, no law, upon which to hear the Attorney-General 
state a case in the court of King's Bench. In that society they 

• The London Corresponding Society originated about 1792, its grand object, 
parnamentary reform, on the Duke of Richmond's plan. Chief-Justice Ejre, in 
his charge on the trial of Tooke, said, " It is so composed, as by dividing and 
subdividing each division, as soon as it amounted to a certain number, sending off 
a new division so as to spread over the country, every other society, no matter 
how remote, it incorporates or affiliates, till it embrace an extent incalculable. It 
is undoubtedly a political monster,** John Edwards, on Hardy's trial, deposed that 
this society was reading the address of Mr. Pitt and the Duke of Richmond when 
it was assailed by the police.^-Madden, I vol. 1 series, 112. 

316 TBIAL0 OF 

received instructions from Mr. Burke, now a fugitive in America. 
The Defenders having broke out with unusual violence last summer, 
approached the capital, and began to disturb the outlets of the city. 
Lawler, a member of the society, and a republican, desirous enough 
(I will not attempt to conceal it) of disturbance was asked by some 
of the associates, or a discourse arose among them, Kennedy, Brady, 
Hart, and others, touching the Defenders. However the subject was 
first introduced, it was proposed, that Lawler should become a 
Defender, and for that purpose, some of these excellent clubbists (he 
will inform you who they were) proposed bringing him to the prisoner, 
then quartered in Dublin. Accordingly Lawler was brought by two 
persons of the names of Kennedy and Brady, to the prisoner, opposite 
the barrack gate, where the prisoner, Weldon was : — they sat for 
some time together. Weldon was then quartered in the barrack, but 
had a lodging within a door or two of an ale-house. Kennedy and 
Brady bring Lawler to this lodging ; after they had sat some time 
drinking punch, one Clayton came in, and they proposed to swear 
Clayton and Lawler. Accordingly they were sworn by the prisoner 
at the bar, and upon being sworn they paid their shilling a-piece. A 
discourse arose, after the swearing, touching the object and nature of 
the Defender's pursuits, and in the course of that conversation, the 
prisoner did avow, that there would shortly be a rising in the north, 
which would be joined by a person, whose name Weldon did not 
disclose — a rising to effect by force the purposes of these associated 
Defenders — and the other persons, Kennedy and Brady did unite in 
declarations of that sort It will appear to you, gentlemen, that being 
thus united Defenders, Lawler was brought to three different meetings, 
where Defenders were assembled, particularly at a public house in 
Plunket-street — there were eighteen on nineteen together, and there 
a discourse arose, and a proposition was made, for buying powder 
and procuring arms, for the purpose of rising to seize the Castle of 
Dublin, of seducing the army from their duty, and by terrifying the 
good, industrious citizens of this town into a belief that the army had 
betrayed them, they might be put into the possession and under the 
government of miscreants such as these. 

Such, gentlemen, are the facts, or pretty nearly (for I do not 
pretend to say they are precisely) such as will appear in evidence. 
I will now state the oath administered to Lawler by the prisoner, to 
whom he had been brought by Kennedy and Brady. The oath was 
this — " I, William Lawler, of my own good will, and consent, do 
swear to be true to his Majesty King George the Third." The oath 
which the prisoner himself had taken, but with a little addition to it, 
well worthy your attention, because it appears to me that what was 
designed to cover the guilt, is, if I understand it, the strongest 
manifestation of it. " I will be true, while I live under the same 
government" — The first part is an oath of allegiance, but not that of 
remaining under his government; indicative, demonstrably, of a 
design to change the government : — it is not limited to the life of the 
King — but while the government remains, and when the oath was 
administered, the prisoner explained it, knowing that the object was 
to appear to be taking an oath of allegiance, while he was intending 
to destroy the King — This, said he, is put in to deceive the army, 


that they may not discover the consequences. " I swear to be true, 
aiding and assisting to every free brother" — that is a name for a 
Defender known among themselves—" And in every form of article 
from the first foundation 1790, and every amendment hitherto, and 
will be obedient to my committees, superior commanders, and officers, 
in all lawful proceedings and not otherwise." Here there is the same 
sort of concealment, that is introduced in the part concerning the 
Sang ; and, gentlemen, you must perceive, that " lawful proceedings' 9 
mean proceedings according to their laws — " nor will I consent to 
any society, or any brother of an unlawful character, but will observe 
and obey the laws and regulations of my committee to whom I belong 
determined brother" — (Here Mr. Attorney-General stated the remain- 
der of the oath as set out in the indictment.) This, gentlemen, was 
the oath administered, as the witness will swear, by the prisoner, to 
Lawler and Clayton — an oath, that needs little comment; it is 
impossible to read it, without putting the construction upon it, that 
it requires obedience to other laws, than those of the country. But 
if there were any doubt upon this, it will be removed by perusing 
the catechism, which was administered and attested at the same time. 
It is pretty much the same as has appeared in several counties of the 
kingdom. It is plain, that there was but one National Convention in 
the world at the time, that of France, and if you are satisfied of these 
overt acts, both species of treason will be proved, encompassing the 
King's death and adhering to his enemies. (Here Mr. Attorney 
stated the catechism, vi<L indictment) Whether — gs means kings, 
you will determine. A stroke is made first in the paper and immedi- 
ately after and close to it, are the letters gs, being the final letters of 
the word kings. You are to determine how they meant to fill it up, 
whether with that word or not Upon putting all the parts together, 
you will determine, what the object and tendency of the force intended 
to be raised was ; whether it be not manifest, that there was an object 
by force to change the government, and by that to aid the powers of 
France, which is adhering to the King's enemies. " To queal all 
nations" was to put down the established government, and to place 
themselves as governors, and to exercise that tyranny, which is exer- 
cised in a neighbouring country, and using as a pretence, the sacred 
name of freedom. 

Gentlemen, I have told you, that after this oath was administered, 
the witness attended two or three meetings of the Defenders, hitherto, 
possibly, conceiving that the Defenders might be used for the purpose 
of obtaining what was their grand object, a reform of the realm — a 
reform of the state, by making it a republic, and putting men, such 
as himself in the government But after attending one or two 
meetings, he found the persons assembled had objects very different 
from what he had conceived. He was cautioned to take care how 
he should say, he was a Protestant, and some of those miscreants 
departing from that religion of which they pretended to be members, 
formed designs of massacreing their Protestant brethren. Gentlemen, 
let me repeat it again, for I cannot repeat it too often, that we do not 
suppose, that any educated, or well-minded Catholic could entertain 
such a design ; — but young men, whose minds are easily heated, for 
such there are, unlettered men, profligate men, without religion, or 


morals, of the lower order of the people—these are the persons who 
are persuaded to entertain designs of this sort, and to the extent of 
their power would make the attempt. Lawler discovered this—* 
Protestant — seeing the tendency of their meeting, and knowing that 
the Defenders were associated throughout the kingdom, he became 
alarmed for the consequences, as to himself. He immediately disclosed 
the designs to a gentleman by whom he had been employed — a man 
of great worth and credit. Lawler told him confidently what had 
come to his knowledge. That gentleman, Mr. Cowen, did, as was his 
duty, inform government of the situation in which the state was, for 
several hundreds were united in the scheme. Government thus 
alarmed did immediately seize upon those against whom they had 
charges and they were committed to prison : — they now remain for 
their trials, and the prisoner Weldon is first brought up. One piece 
of evidence, gentlemen, I have omitted to state, which if it should 
appear in the light I state it, is of the utmost importance to this case. 
Weldon was a private in the 7th Dragoons, which was ordered to 
Cork, there to embark for foreign service. Thus taken from his 
gainful situation of a committee-man, or Defender-maker, it was 
necessary to appoint some person to succeed him. He gave the oath 
and the article to Kennedy, that he might become a committee-man. 
Kennedy was seized, and in the fob in his breeches were found the 
oath and the catechism, which Weldon had administered to Lawler. 
80 that here is a fact, which could not be made for the occasion — a 
fact disclosed before Kennedy was seized — that the oath was delivered 
over to Kennedy, which is fully and clearly corroborative of the 
testimony of Lawler. We will now call him, and we doubt not you 
will examine this case, so important to society, with all due delibera- 
tion, and find such verdict, as will do you honour, and the public 

William Lawler, sworn. — Examined by the Soucitor-Gbnmai- 

Q. What has been your occupation — were you bred to any trade ? 
A. I was bred in the gilding line. 

Q. Did you work at that trade in England or Ireland ? A In both 

Q. First in Ireland, then in England ? A. Yes, sir. 

Q. You served an apprenticeship here ? A. Yes. 

Q. To whom? A. The first part to Mr. Robinson of College- 
green ; the second part to Mr. Williamson of Grafton-street. 

Q. Did you work at your trade in England ? A. Yes. 

Q. When did you return ? A. About two years ago. 

Q. When did you go to England ? A. About the year 1791- 

Q. During the time you were in England, did you belong to any 
political society ? A. The London Corresponding Society. 

Q. Upon your return to Ireland, did you bring any letters of intro- 
duction? A. One. 

Q. To whom ? A. To Archibald Hamilton Rowan. 

Q. From whom ? A. From Daniel Isaac Eaton, of Bishopsgate- 
street, London, printer. 

Q. I suppose you delivered that letter ? A. I delivered it to a 
servant of Hamilton Rowan. I called in about a week, and saw him. 


Q. Where was he then ? A. He came out of a hack parlour, and 
we both went into the front parlour. 

Q. Did you ever see him afterwards ? A. Yes, I saw him in the 
street, and then in Newgate. 

Q. After jour arrival in Ireland, did you become a member of any 
society ? A. I did, sir. 

Q. Of what society ? A. I do not rightly recollect the name of 
the first, but after it was dissolved ■■ 

Q. Where did it meet ? A. At my rooms, at one Galland's in 
Crane-lane, and in HoeyVcourt. When that was dissolved I became a 
member of another. 

Q. What was the name of the second society ? A. The Philan- 
thropic Society. 

Q. Tou do not recollect that the first had any particular name ? 
A. It had a name, but I do not recollect it. 

Q. Do you recollect the name of any particular gentleman of that 
Philanthropic Society ? A. There was a Telegraphic Society. 

Q. But do you remember the names of any persons belonging to 
the Fhilantrophic society ? A. There was Burke and Galland in it. 

Q. What Burke ? A. Of the College, 

Q. What is become of him ? A. I do not know, but am informed 
he is gone to America. 

Q. You afterwards became a member of the Telegraphic Society ? 
A. They were both much about the same time. 

Q. Was there any particular object of this society ? A. Of the 

Mr. Cub&ah^— I trust the gentlemen concerned for the crown will 
endeavour to keep the witness, whose evidence they are apprised of, 
to the strict rule of not drawing from him any answer, of the legality 
of which there may be a doubt It is too general to ask what the 
object of a society was. I do no state this formally to argue upon it ; 
but suggest it to their candour. 

Mr. Soucitor-Genekal. — If I knew of any other mode less 
leading than that which I have used, I would adopt it ; but upon some 
points it is impossible to put a question without in some measure sug- 
gesting an answer to it. 

Mr. Curran. — If I am pushed to the necessity of arguing the 
ground of the objection, it will require very little to be said in support 
of it. This man says he was a member of a particular society, and he 
is asked what was the object of that society, although the prisoner 
was not a member of it. 

Mr. Justice Chamberlain. — You have not laid a foundation for 
asking this question, unless you establish a privity between this 
society and the prisoner. 

Mr. Solicitor-General. — If I were driven to argue this ques- 
tion, I eould support it by very recent adjudications. To shew the 
general schemes of treason, it is competent to examine as to the object 
and design of the persons charged as traitors ; it was the uniform 
practice in the cases of Hardy and Tooke. But it is not kind to 
embarrass the court, if it can be avoided. 

Q. Was there any other society, beside the Philanthrophic and 
Telegraphic of which you became a member? A. Not till 1 became 
a member of the Defenders. 


Q. Did they call themselves Defenders ? A. They met in several 
parts of the town. 

Q. You say you were of a society called Defenders ? A. I believe 
about a fortnight after the Fermanagh militia left Dublin, Brady and 
Kennedy, called upon me to go to Weldon to be sworn as a Defender. 

Q. (By the Court — Tou cannot ascertain the time more particu- 
larly ? A. No, my lord. 

Q. Neither the month, nor the day ? A. No, my lord, for Brady 
was to have brought me to Hanlon, but he leaving town, Brady brought 
me to Weldon.) 

Q. Who was Kennedy ? A. He was an apprentice to Mr Kennedy 
the glass-cutter in Stephen-street. 

Q. What was Kennedy's christian name ? A. I do not know. 

Mr. Curran. — It strikes me, that this is not a fair examination, to 
examine the witness to the acts of two strangers unconnected with 
the prisoner. It is evidence to say, that two persons carried him, the 
witness, to the prisoner — but to say they called upon him with the 
intention of having him sworn is matter of opinion, and the evidence 
ought to consist of facts. 

(Court.) — Unless the witness was sworn, the evidence will signify 

Q. You saw Weldon, the prisoner ? A. Yes. 

Q. Where was it? A. At the stables belonging to the Horse- 

Q. (By the Court. — Were Brady and Kennedy along with you ? 
A. Yes, my lord.) 

Q. When you met Weldon, where was he ? A. He happened to 
be in the stable. On Brady's asking for him he came out ; Brady 
introduced me to him ; we then went to a public-house. 

Q. Before you got to the public-house, did Weldon say or do any- 
thing ? A. Not to me ; he only asked me how I was, and shook 
hands with me. 

Q. Did nothing particular pass in the manner of introducing you? 
A. No, sir ; not there. 

Q. When you arrived at the public-house, what happened there ? 
A. When we went to the public-house, a naggin of whiskey was 
called for ; we went into a back parlour. Brady told Weldon, he 
should go for Flood, who promised to meet them. 

(By the Court.) — Do you mean that, Brady would go for Flood? 
A. Yes, that he, Brady, would go for Flood. 

Q. Did he mention his Christian name ? A. No, my lord, he did 

Q. Did Flood come ? A. Weldon desired Brady not to be long. 
After some time a little boy came in, and told Weldon his supper was 
ready. Weldon said that was his little boy, his son. 

Q. What happened next ? A. Weldon went to set his supper. 

Q. Did Weldon return after ? A. Brady returnedjfirst, and Clayton 
along with him. 

(By the Jury.) — You were left alone then ? A. Except Kennedy. 

Q. Did Weldon return after any interval ? A. He did, sir. 

Q. How long after ? A. In about a quarter of an hour. 

Q. When he returned, what happened ? A. After he sat down, 
and took a glass of punch, he said, " We had better make these two." 


Q. Who did he mean ? A. Me, and Clayton : — Brady asked him 
if he had a prayer-book ? Weldon said he had. 

Q. Did he take out a prayer-book ? A. He did, and laid it upon 
the table. 

Q. What happened after the book was produced? A. He pulled 
oat some papers and desired Clayton and me to take hold of the 
prayer-book in our right hands. 

Q. Do you recollect any conversation particularly relative to the 
object of swearing ? A. Not before he put the oath. 

Q. Were you told the purpose for which the oath was given ? A. Tes. 

Q. Were you informed of it before ? A, Tes. 

Q. You were brought to Weldon to be sworn ? A. I was. 

Q. He administered the oath ? A. He did. 

Q. How did it begin ? A. It began, " I, A. B." 

Q. You have had an opportunity of seeing the paper ? A. Yes. 

Q. What was it? A. He said it was a test. 

Q. Should you know the paper again ? A. Yes, sir. 

[Here a paper was produced, beginning I, A. B., &c, which the 
witness said was the same paper he had seen with Weldon.] 

Q. You were sworn to the contents of that paper ? 

Mr. Curran. — I object to this as a leading question — Were you 
sworn to the contents of that paper ? What is the answer, but I was, 
or I was not ? 

Mr. Solicitor-General. — You say you were sworn to that paper ? 
A I was to two. 

Q. Is this one of them ? A. It is. 

Q. Shew him the other — is that the other ? A. Yes, sir. 

[The paper beginning I, A. B., was then read. Vid. Indictment] 

Mr. M'Nally. — I object to this paper going in evidence to the 
jury, on account of a variance between it and the indictment, the oath 
in the indictment is " I, William Lawler." This paper is I, A. B. 

Mr. Solicitor-General. — How were you sworn to that paper ? — 
Did you pronounce your name ? A. Yes : " I, William Lawler." 

[The second paper, called the Catechism, was then read. Vid. the 


Q. After you were sworn, what happened next? A. After I was 
sworn to these papers ? 

Q. Yes : what happened ? A. Brady asked him if he knew of any 
man to head them when they were to rise ? Weldon said, there was 
one in the north, but did not mention his name. 

Q. Had you any further conversation ? Remember such as you 
can. A. He told us after, that before the time there would be letters 
sent through the country to tell them when they were to rise. 

Q. What further happened ? A. He was asked in what manner 
every one would become acquainted with it, or how would they get to 
know it ? 

Q. By whom was he asked ? A. I believe by Kennedy. 

Q You are sure the question was asked ? A. Yes : the question 
was asked. 



Q. What answer did Weldon make ? A. He said the committee- 
men would acquaint them. 

Q. What further happened upon that occasion ? A. Nothing I 
believe of any consequence. 

Q. At that meeting ? A. No, sir. 

Q. Tou got no instructions of any kind ? A. Weldon was to tell 
Brady of any meeting of Defenders. 

Q. (By the Court-^-Did Weldon tell Brady so ? A. Yes, my lord; 
he said he believed there would be a meeting in the next week in 
Thomas-street of Defenders, but did not mention the particular place. 

Q. You have sworn to two papers, which have been read, had you 
any opportunity of seeing these papers at any other time and with 
whom ? A. I saw them with Kennedy afterwards. 

Q. Did you ever hear Weldon say anything of them ? A. Weldon 
told me he would give these papers to Brady before he left town. 

Q. (By the Court.) — Did he say he was leaving town ? A. Yes, 
my lord, to go to Cork. 

Q. Had you any intimation from anybody then present of any 
meeting to be had ? A. Brady of a Sunday brought me to a meeting. 

Q. (By the Court.) — Did Weldon say for what purpose he would 
leave the papers ? A. He did not. He told us the signs so as to 
know a Defender. 

Q. Tell the jury and the Court what the signs were ? A. Weldon 
said, suppose you happen to be in company and want to know a 
Defender, the sign is to put the two hands joined backwards upon 
the top of the head, and pretend to yawn, then draw the hands down 
upon your knee or upon the table. Then the other answers, by 
drawing the right hand over the forehead and returning it upon the 
back of the left hand. The person in answer or reply to that draws 
the left hand across the forehead, and returns it to the back of the 
right hand. Upon shaking hands, they pressed the thumb of the 
right hand upon the back of the left, and not to be afraid to hurt the 
person, and if they asked what was the pass- word " Eliphismatis." 

Q. Did he tell you anything else ? A. No, he did not. 

Q. I observe in that oath, there is a sentence to be true to George 
the Third, was there any conversation about that ? A. At the time 
he finished it and we kissed the book, he asked if we liked it ? — We 
said we did. He turned about, and looked to Brady, who said, " They 
knew what they came here for." " I told them before they came." 

Q. Did anybody at that time talk about the words George the 
Third in the oath? 

Court. — That is a leading question. 

Q. Was there any conversation about the oath ? 

Mr. Cubran. — That is not a way in which to put a question in a 
case of life. 

Mr. Solicitor-Generajl. — I will argue it, if the court have any 
doubt, and assign my reasons. 

Mr. Curran. — I say a leading question is not to be put, and a 
question to which the answer is " yes," or " no," is a leading question. 

Mr. Justice Chamberlain. — A leading question is that which sug- 
gests the answer. Now if he answer " yes " to this question, and stop 
there, that will not do ; this question then does not suggest the answer. 


Q. What did he say ? A. He said, laughing, " that if the King's 
head were off to-morrow morning we were no longer under his 

Q. Was that explaining the oath? A. The test that he put first. 
I asked him, was he not afraid of keeping these papers about him in 
consequence of being in the horse — he said, no ; for they were never 
searched — but he did not care who saw the first paper, for the small 
paper was the principal. The first paper, he said, was only a cloak 
for the army. 

Q. Did he say why ? A. On account of swearing them to be true 
to the King. He said, he had sworn several of them, and that they 
would have some objection to part of it, but for that clause. 

Q. (By the Court.) — Was it to reconcile them ? A. Yes. 

Q. Weldon said he would hand over the papers to Brady ? A. Yes. 

Q. Did you ever see them afterwards ? A. With Kennedy. 

Q. When ? A. About a fortnight after Weldon went out of town. 

Q. How came they into Kennedy's hands ? A. I do not know. 

Q. Did you know them ? A. I challenged them at a place in 
Drury-lane — Murphy lived in Church-street ; he and I were together, 
and I said 

Mr. M'Nally objected to this evidence, and the witness was stopped 
by the court. 

Q. Did Brady ever give you any intimation of any other meeting ? 
A. He brought me to one in Plunket-street. 

Q. To a meeting of what ? A. Of Defenders. 

Q. Were any of the same persons present that were with Weldon ? 

Q. (By the Court) — When was this ? A. I cannot recollect. 

Q. Who was at that meeting ? A. Kennedy was along with me 
at the same time. 

Q. There were a good many there ? A. There was a good many 

Q. Was there anything done at that assembly ? 

Mr. Curran. — Do the counsel think that evidence ? 

Mr. Solicitor-General. — I do. 

Mr. Curran. — What ! affect a man's life by what was done at 
meetings, when he was an hundred miles off! 

Mr. Solicitor-General. — I think it evidence, though the counsel 
asks the question with some astonishment. It is a rule of law, settled 
in a variety of cases, and recognized in the very last, that it being 
once established that the prisoner belonged to a society 

Mr. Justice Chamberlain. — We are of opinion that this is evi- 
dence, that there is a foundation laid for it, by swearing that Weldon 
said, there were to be subsequent meetings, and that they should have 
notice of them from Brady ; that is a foundation to let in evidence of 
what is done at those meetings. 

Q. What happened at that subsequent meeting ? A. They were 
patting down money on the table, and I was asked for sixpence, as a 
collection for powder 

Q. (By the Court.) — Who asked you ? A. Brady desired me to put 
down sixpence. I told Brady I had not sixpence. Kennedy said he 
would lend me one — He gave me a shilling ; I laid down the shilling 
and took up sixpence and gave it to Kennedy. I was told, that a 

324 TRIAL8 OF 

man of tl*e nam^ of Lockington then in the room was a captain of 

Q. What else happened ? yTh*t powder did you mean ? A. Gun- 
powder. I understood from them, that they wanted powder, as they 
were going out to get arms, but not tHat' night. 

Q. Did you understand from the company for what they wanted 
the arms ? A. They did not say. 

Mr. Baron George. — His conclusion, or his opinion is not evidence ; 
but ask him as to facts done, or the conversations held. 

Q. Did anything more pass? A. I understood there was to be a 
meeting. Brady and Kennedy both told me there was to be a meeting 
after that* 
' Q. Where did they tell you that ? A* At the meeting 

Q. Did you see *ny of that company at any other place and where ? 
A. I did. 

Q. Where? A. At Stoneybatter, the corner of Arbour-hill. 

Q» -l/\rho gave you notice ? A. I do not know* 

Qi You saw the same company ? iL* Some of them, Hart, Leary, 
Cooke and others. 

Mr. Baron George. — Unless he got notice from Brady who was 
the person authorized it is not evidence. 

Q. Did you see Brady or Kennedy afterwards ? A. I did, 

Q. Where ? A. At their own place in Stephen-street 

Q. Were Brady and Kennedy at Stoneybatter? A. No, sir. 

Q, Of what peopfe was the subsequent meeting ? A. Of Defenders. 

Mr. Curran. — The court desired you not to give evidence of that 

Mr. Solicitor-General* — I hope the court have laid down no 
rule upon the subject. 

Jr{r. I$aron George. — We think you have not laid any foundation 
for the meeting a,f Stoneybatter. 

Mr. Solicitor-General. — My lords, I submit this is evidence* 
Upon all occasions where the proceedings of any society are let in, 
all their acts are thereby made evidence* And so it was in the State 
trials lately, respecting the London Oon^p^nding Society, and their 
gp.ncluct was evidence of overt acts. I have established the fact, that 
there was a meeting of a body of men called Defenders : this man was 
admitted into them, and the evidence goes to shew that subsequent 
meetings under the same appellation and obligation did assemble, 
and did certain acts which will illustrate the charge against the 

' J£r. Baron George^-I do nqt say, whether they may not be evi- 
dence ; but I think you have not yet laid a foundation to let in evidence 
of the meeting at Stoneybatter. 

' Q. You saw the oath afterwards in Kennedy's hands, upon what 
occasion ? A, Upon a meeting with Murphy. 

Q. Where ? A. At Drury-lane in a workshop. 

Q. Tou said there were certain signs communicated by Weldon by 
which a Defender might be known ? A. Yes. 

Q. Did you see them made use of upon any occasion and where ? 
A. Hart has asked me if 

Mr. M'Nally objected to this conversati