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TRIAL, CONVICTION, AND EXECUTION OF ROBERT EMMET.
Favoured by the darkness of the night, Emmet, and a few followers, contrived to escape from the city, and headed to that haunt of outlawed and desperate malefactors, the mountain range of Wicklow. For better security, the party separated, each adopting the best means within his power to evade the now uplifted hand of outraged justice. Emmet, it was said, might possibly have quitted the country in a fishing boat, but his wild attachment to a daughter of the celebrated Curran induced him to return to the metropolis, and seek a parting interview with his mistress. None but a madman would have risked the dangerous experiment—but Emmet appears to have been influenced in all his actions by the wildest impulse, and, accordingly, he regained the city safely, and again took up his quarters in his old concealment, Harold's cross.
On the 25th of August, he was arrested by Major Sirr, and a special commission immediately issued_Lord Norbury, with Barons George and Daly, presiding.
“ It opened, on the 31st of August, with the trial of Edward Kearney, a calenderer, who was proved, on the testimony of M‘Cabe, an accomplice, and others, not only to have been active in organizing the conspiracy, but to have been actively engaged in the insurrection of the 23rd July; having been one of the first who was apprehended by the party commanded by Lieutenant Brady. His trial was followed, on the 1st of September, by that of Thomas Maxwell Roche, an old man of about seventy. Both were found guilty, and were executed in Thomas-street, the scene of their criminality—Kearney on the first, and Roche on the following day: both acknowledged the justice of their sentence. Several other prisoners of inferior note were afterwards tried and executed, all of whom died penitent. In particular, Henry Howley, who had shot one of the police
officers who attempted to apprehend him, addressed the multitude in a pathetic exhortation, exclaiming'Good people, pray for me: and pray that I may be forgiven my sius
, which I heartily repent of. Good people, you see to what a situation I am brought by my own folly, and by bad advisers. Good people
, love each other, and forget all animosities; relinquish your
pursuits, which, if you continue to follow, will, in the end, bring you to the situation in which I now stand!' He confessed that he had, with his own hand, murdered Colonel Browne, on the night of the rebellion, He appeared fully sensible of the enormity of the crime, as well as of that of the murder of John Hanlon, the Tower-keeper, and exhibited an appearance of the deepest remorse. His whole conduct, indeed,
excited a degree of compassion which it required the full recollection of his crimes to overcome.”
On Monday, the 19th Sept., Emmet was formally arraigned. The Attorney-General opened the indictment, charging him with compassing the deposition and death of the king, and conspiring to levy war against the king, within the said king's realm. Emmet pleaded, in a firm, manly tone, “ Not guilty.”
“Mr. Rawlings deposed to a knowledge of the prisoner, with whom he had held political conversations; and Mr. Tyrrel proved the purchase of the house in Butterfield-lane by Emmet, under an assumed
“ John Fleming deposed, that on the 23rd of July, and for the year previous, he had been hostler at the White Bull Inn, Thomas-street, kept by a person named Dillon. The house was convenient to Masslane, where the rebel depôt was, and to which the witness bad free and constant access ; having been in the confidence of the conspirators, and employed to bring them ammunition and other things. He saw the persons there making pike-handles, and heading them with the iron part; he also saw the blunderbusses, firelocks, and pistols in the depôt, and saw ball-cartridges making there. Here the witness identified the prisoner at the bar, whom he saw in the depôt for the first time, on the Tuesday morning after the explosion in Patrick-street. The witness had opened the gate of the inn yard, which opened into Mass-lane, to let out Quigley, when he saw the prisoner, accompanied by a person of the name of Palmer; the latter got some sacks from the witness to convey ammunition to the stores; and the prisoner went into the depôt, where he continued almost constantly until the evening of the 23rd July, directing the preparations for the insurrection, and having the chief authority. He heard the prisoner read a little sketch, as the witness called it, purporting, that every officer, non-commissioned officer, and private, should have equally every thing they got, and have the same laws as in France. Being asked what it was they were to share, the prisoner replied, 'what they got when they were to take Ireland or Dublin.' He saw green uniform jackets making in the depôt by different tailors, one of whom was named Colgan. He saw one uniform in particular, a green coat, laced on the sleeves and skirts, &c., and with gold epaulettes, like a gentleman's dress. He saw the prisoner take it out of a desk one day, and shew it to all present. Here the witness identified the desk, which was in the court. He also saw the prisoner, at different times, take out papers, and put papers into the desk. There was none other in the store. Quigley also used sometimes to go to the desk. On the evening of the 23rd July, witness saw the prisoner dressed in the uniform above described, with white waistcoat and pantaloons, new boots, and cocked hat and white feather. He had also a sash on him, and was armed with a sword and case of pistols. The prisoner called for a big coat (but did not get it) to disguise his uniform, as he said, until he went to the party that was to attack the castle. Quigley, and a person named Stafford, had uniforms like that of Emmet, but they had only one epaulette. Quigley wore a white feather, and Stafford a green one. Stafford was a baker in Thomas-street. About nine o'clock the prisoner drew his sword, and called out, “Come on, boys.' He sallied out of the depôt, accompanied by Quigley and Stafford, and about fifty men, as well as the witness could judge, armed with pikes, blunderbusses, pistols, &c. They entered Dirty-lane, and went from thence into Thomas-street. The prisoner was in the centre of the party. They began to fire in Dirty-lane, and also when they got into Thomasstreet. The witness was with the party. The prisoner went, in the stores, by the name of Ellis. He was considered by all of them as the general and head of the business; the witness heard him called by the title of general. In and out of the depôt it was said they were preparing to assist the French, when they should land. Quigley went in the depôt by the name of Graham.”
“Terence Colgan (the tailor named in the foregoing evidence), being sworn, deposed, that on the Sunday previous to the insurrection, he came to town from Lucan, where he lived ; and having met with a friend, they went to Dillon's, the White Bull Inn, in Thomas-street, and drank, until the witness, overcome with liquor, fell asleep, when he was conveyed, in this state of insensibility, into the depôt in Masslane; and when he awoke the next morning, he was set to work, making green jackets and white pantaloons. He saw the prisoner there, by whose directions every thing was done; and who, he understood, was the chief. He (witness) also corroborated the general preparations of arms, ammunition, &c., for the insurrection.”
“ Patrick Fraser deposed, that as he was passing through Mass-lane, between the hours of nine and ten o'clock, on the evening of Friday, the 22nd of July, he stopped before the malt-stores, or depôt, on hearing a noise therein, which surprised him, as he considered it a waste house. Immediately the door opened, and a man came forth, who caught him, and asked him what he was doing there? The witness was then brought into the depôt, and again asked what brought him there, or had he ever been there before ? He said he had not. They asked him, did he know Graham ? He replied, that he did not. One of the persons then said the witness was a spy, and called out, to • Drop him immediately; by which the witness understood, that they meant to shoot him. They brought him up-stairs, and after some consultation, they agreed to wait for some person to come in, who would decide what should be done with him. That person having arrived, he asked the witness if he knew Graham ? He replied, that he did not; a light was brought in at the same time, and the witness, having looked about, was asked, if he knew any one there? He answered, that he knew Quigley. He was asked, where ? He replied, that he knew him five or six years ago, at Maynooth, as a bricklayer, or
The witness then identified the prisoner as the came in and decided that he should not be killed, but that he should be taken care of, and not let ont. The witness was detained there that night, and the whole of the next day (Saturday, the 23rd), and was made to assist the different kinds of work. During that time
he saw the prisoner, who appeared to have the chief direction. Here the witness described the weapons and missiles of various kinds; also the uniforms, and particularly that, on the evening of the 23rd, he saw three men dressed in green uniforms, richly laced; one of whom was the prisoner, who wore two gold epaulettes, but the other two only one each.
“ To a question by the Court, the witness said, that he gave information of the circumstances deposed in his evidence, the next morning, to Mr. Ormsby, in Thomas-street, to whom he was steward."
“Sergeant Thomas Rice and others proved the proclamation of the Provisional Government found in the depôt;* identified the desk which the prisoner used there; and a letter signed “Thomas Addis Emmet;' and directed to “Mrs. Emmet, Milltown, near Dublin,' beginning “My dearest Robert.'
“Edward Wilson, Esq., recollected the explosion of gunpowder which took place in Patrick-street, previous to the 23rd of July; it took place on the 16th. He went there and found an apparatus for making gunpowder; was certain that it was gunpowder exploded. Proved the existence of a rebellious insurrection, as did also Lieutenant Brady, The latter added, that on an examination of the pikes, which he found in Thomas-street, four were stained with blood on the iron part, and on one or two of them the blood extended half-way up the handle.”
“ John Doyle, a farmer, deposed to the following effect :-That on the morning of the 26th July last, about two o'clock, a party of people came to his house at Ballymace, in the parish of Tallaght, seven miles from Dublin. He had been after drinking, and was heavy asleep; they came to his bedside, and stirred and called him, but he did not awake at once; when be did and looked up, he lay closer than before : they desired him to take some spirits, which he refused. They then moved him to the middle of the bed, and two of them lay down, one on each side of him. One of them said—You have a French general and a French colonel beside you, what you never had before.'
For some hours the witness lay between asleep and awake. When he found his companions asleep he stole out of the bed, and found in the room some blunderbusses, a gun, and some pistols. The number of blunderbusses, he believed, were equal to the number of persons, who, on being collected at breakfast, amounted to fourteen. Here he identified the prisoner as one of those who were in the bed with him.
“The witness then further stated, that the party left his house between eight and nine o'clock in the evening, and proceeded up the hill. The next morning the witness found under the table, on which they breakfasted, one of the small printed proclamations, which he gave to John Robinson, the barony constable."
“Rose Bagnall, residing at Ballynascorney, about a mile further up the hill from Doyle's
, proved that a party of men, fifteen in number, and whom she described similar to that of the preceding witness, came
* Vide Appendix.
to her house on the night of the Tuesday immediately after the insurrection."
“ John Robinson corroborated the testimony of the witness Doyle, relative to the small proclamation, which he identified.”
“Joseph Palmer deposed that he was clerk to Mr. Colville, and lodged at his mother's house, at Harold's Cross. He recollected the apprehension of the prisoner, at his mother's house, by Major Sirr; and that he had lodged there the preceding spring, at which time, and when he was arrested, he went by the name of Hewitt. The prisoner came to lodge there, the second time, about three weeks before the last time; and was habited in a brown coat, white waistcoat, white pantaloons, hessian boots, and a black stock. The pantaloons were of cloth. Those who visited the prisoner inquired for him by the name of Hewitt. At the time he was arrested there was a label on the door of the house, expressive of its inhabitants. It was written by the witness, but the prisoner was omitted, at his request, because he said he was afraid government would take him up. The prisoner, in different conversations with the witness, explained why he feared being taken up. He acknowledged that he had been in Thomas-street on the night of the 23rd of July, and described the dress he wore on that occasion, part of which were the waistcoat, pantaloons, and boots already mentioned, and particularly his coat, which he described as a very handsome uniform. The prisoner had a conversation with witness about a magazine, and expressed much regret at the loss of the powder in the depôt. The proclamations were likewise mentioned by the prisoner, and he planned a mode of escape, in the event of any attempt to arrest him, by going through the parlour-window into the back-house, and from thence into the fields. Here the witness was shewn a paper, found upon a chair in the room in which the prisoner lodged, and asked if he knew whose handwriting it was--he replied, that he did not know, but was certain that it had not been written by any of his family, and that there was no other lodger in the house besides the prisoner.
The examination of this witness being closed, extracts from several papers found in the possession of Emmet were then read.
Major Henry Charles Sirr stated—“I went, in the evening of the 25th of August, to the house of one Palmer. I had heard there was a stranger in the back parlour. I rode, accompanied by a man on foot; I desired the man to knock at the door. He did, and it was opened by a girl. I alighted, and ran directly into the back parlour. I saw the prisoner sitting at dinner: the woman of the house was there, and the girl who opened the door was the daughter of the woman of the house. I desired them to withdraw. I asked the prisoner his name; he told me his name was Cunningham. I gave him in charge to the man who accompanied me, and went into the next room to ask the woman and daughter about him; they told me his name was Hewitt. I went back, and asked how long he had been there? He said he came that morning. He had attempted to escape before I returned, for he was bloody, and the man said he knocked him down with a