Query about those tried under White Boys Acts 1831 at Ennis

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kbarlow
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Joined: Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:07 am

Query about those tried under White Boys Acts 1831 at Ennis

Post by kbarlow » Wed Jul 08, 2020 5:41 am

Hi all - I am hoping an Irish historian can assist me with a question about the men tried at Ennis under the White Boy Acts in 1831. There is a (partial) transcription which Peter (the librarian) kindly sent me a few years ago of the trial of Stephen Hehir on 25th June 1831, published as " A report of the Proceedings under a Special Commission in the Counties of Limerick and Clare in the Months of May and June 1831 taken in shorthand by Peter Gorman (Attorney-at-law)" in The Ennis Chronicle and Clare Advertiser,Wednesday June 29 1831.
I am presuming the trial would have been conducted in English, but I believe many of the agricultural labourers on trial would have mainly spoken Irish, so may have had difficulty with following the trial; the witnesses were locals, so may also have only spoken mainly Irish. Is there any way of finding out whether locals were given any translations or explanations in Irish of the proceedings?

many thanks, Kerry

PhilDon
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Re: Query about those tried under White Boys Acts 1831 at Ennis

Post by PhilDon » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:02 pm

Hi Kerry,
....... well regretfully, I'm certainly not an Irish Historian .... but I did come across this document a few months ago.
I was looking thru the court system in search of my elusive kin when I read about the unruly events in Clare, Limerick, Galway etc in and around the late 1700s and early 1800s.I was a little intrigued by these agrarian gangs and their antics ... some of which were a little ordinary to say the least ..... so hunted around for some books or short stories on them.
I found this report ..... it is fairly comprehensive .... hope it helps.
Also hope I have attached it correctly....

Cheers Phil D.


https://ptfs-oireachtas.s3.amazonaws.co ... 011001.pdf

PhilDon
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Re: Query about those tried under White Boys Acts 1831 at Ennis

Post by PhilDon » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:11 pm

Hi Kerry
.... Sorry can see now that you already have this report.
Should have read properly ... bit embarrassing ... but trying to help after all the help I have been afforded.
Cheers Phil D.

kbarlow
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:07 am

Re: Query about those tried under White Boys Acts 1831 at Ennis

Post by kbarlow » Fri Jul 10, 2020 2:29 am

"It's grand" (as my Dublin Grandma would have said) that you posted the full transcript, Phil, as I only had the few pages of Stephen's trial. So many thanks for sending me the document. Whilst I have been reading various work on the Whiteboys Acts and the Special Commission, this transcript of the judges' comments each opening day are so revealing of their determination to see all the offences through the prism of the Act.

Whilst it doesn't answer my question about whether the agricultural labourers could follow proceedings in English, it helps further insight into the political context of so many men transported in the period.

Kind regards, Kerry

murf
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Location: Qld Australia

Re: Query about those tried under White Boys Acts 1831 at Ennis

Post by murf » Tue Jul 14, 2020 1:33 am

Hi Kerry

Those Special Commission transcripts of Peter Gorman include the trials that resulted from the Clondagad Riot of May 1831 and the death of Sergeant James Robinson, the subject of a discussion on this forum in 2009.
http://www.ourlibrary.ca/phpbb2/viewtop ... dent#p1261

The parts of the Gorman document relevant to this are:
Morty Donnelly murder trial - pp 121-136
Michael Kelly murder trial - pp 158-164
Conviction of six prisoners for demanding arms - pp138-139.

I previously had copies of the Clare Journal reports on these proceedings, and it was interesting now to compare those accounts with the Gorman transcripts. For the most part they concur with minor differences, although the Clare Journal reporter on occasions does some "scene setting", as with the swearing in of the jury for the Donnelly trial:
The greatest anxiety prevailed among the Jury, in a wish to be challenged, and nods and winks and smiles were exchanged between the Jurors and prisoner's Counsel. Great satisfaction was observable in the countenance of the Jurors, as each was challenged..."
Morty Donnelly and Michael Kelly were both hanged. The other six prisoners were faced with what we in OZ would call "Hobson's Choice." By changing their plea to guilty they clinched a sentence of life deportation rather than hanging.

In the Morty Donnelly trial two female witnesses for the defence(see p 130 on the document), Joan Reidy and Margaret Considine are each described as an Irish witness, which implies that they gave their evidence in Irish, and this was recorded in English.

kbarlow
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:07 am

Re: Query about those tried under White Boys Acts 1831 at Ennis

Post by kbarlow » Wed Jul 15, 2020 3:06 am

Thanks for your comments Murph. When I read the full O'Gorman transcript, there is one mention of an interpreter, which helps my query (in part). A large number of the Irish convicts on the ship Asia in 1831 were recorded as neither able to read nor write, and given the political context, it wouldn't surprise me if they were given any more than scant interpretations of what was transpiring during court proceedings. Sadly, in Stephen Hehir's transcript there is only the responses of the witnesses, with none of Stephen's verbal evidence recorded. So I will probably always be left guessing whether he was part of the Terry Alts, a sympathiser, a set-up, or an innocent by-product. Given one of the clan "leaders" had been listed as a member of the United Irishmen just over 30 years prior, I wouldn't be surprised if the Hehir name wasn't on the local authorities' radar!!

cheers, Kerry

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