HC Deb 06 May 1823 vol 9 cc69-79

The House having again resolved itself into a Committee on the Conduct of the Sheriff of Dublin, sir R. Heron in the Chair,

Mr. Barrett Wadden was called in; and examined

By Mr. J. Williams.—Where do you reside?—In Palace-street, Dublin.

What is your situation in life?—That of a silk-manufacturer.

Do you know a person of the name of M'Connell?—I do. He was before this House last night. He is my wife's son by a former husband. I saw him the Wednesday after the riot in the theatre.

Did he make any communication to you, about that time, of any thing that he had heard?—He did.

What was it that he stated to you at that time?—He expressed his surprise at the conduct of Mr. Sheriff Thorpe, in whose company he had been the preceding evening: his identical words were, "that the sheriff had not only betrayed great ignorance, but that his con- duct was so extraordinary, that he could scarcely believe the man to be in the right use of his senses; that there were a number of per sons present, namely, the sheriff, the sheriff's lady, Mrs. Sibthorpe, Mrs. Sibthorpe's daughter, John M'Connell, young Mr Sibthorpe, and William Graham, one of the rioters, or at least one of the persons supposed to be a rioter in the theatre the preceding evening; that they were playing at cards, and that William Graham in playing the knave of clubs, threw it down and said, "there's the lord mayor and be damned to him, I wish he were out of office till I could have a lick at him;" that Mrs. Sibthorpe sat in one corner of the room, and she said, "how could you do it, for you are top little;" Graham was a very small man, and his answer was, "by God, I would jump, up and have a lick at his neck;" that the sheriff then said, "be damned to the marquis Wellesley, we shall do no good in this country until he is out of it." That in another part of the evening, a question was asked by John M'Connell namely, what is likely to become, or what is likely to be done with the persons now in confinement for the alleged riot?" and that the question was put by John M'Connell, not to any particular person in the room, but it was answered by the sheriff, "they are in safe hands; I will give them a jury that will ac quit them, for I have an Orange panel in my pocket," at the same time tapping his pocket. This was the communication made to me the Wednesday evening following; the conversation having occurred in Mrs. Sibthorpe's par lour the Tuesday evening; and certainly I did consider the communication to be of that importance, that I was only discharging the duty I owed my fellow citizens and my country at large, in communicating it to the government, which I did. He also informed me, that sheriff Thorpe, when he retired home, in buttoning up his coat, just as they opened the door, said, "well, at all events, be damned to the marquis Wellesley." I received this information on Wednesday; the following day I. communicated it to the government; and on the Saturday following, John M'Connell was summoned up to die castle; and the matter there, I believe, taken upon oath. I communicated it to Mr. Matthews, the private secretary of the lord lieutenant. Inconsequence of that communication, the attorney-general had a conversation with me about the matter.

Did you state, to the attorney-general, what you have mentioned to this committee how?—The principal part of it.

Have you been unfortunate in trade? Extremely so; for I have been a bankrupt.

Have you obtained your certificate?—No, for I did not want to obtain it; the commission having been superseded, and I reinstated in my business, to the satisfaction of my creditors; for I have but two in the world.

Have you, at any time, been, compelled to leave Ireland?—I have never been compelled to leave my house for one moment.

By Col. Barrry.—You have said, that you stated part of What you have flow stated, to the attorney-general, and part you did not; will you state, what part you did not state?—The communication that I made to the attorney-general, in the first instance, principally alluded to the expressions that were used by Graham, as applicable to the lord mayor. Our lord mayor of Dublin is a card-maker, and when the knave of clubs was thrown down by Graham, it was accompanied by that expression as applicable, not only to the lord mayor as such, but as card-maker; and the communication I made to the attorney-general, as it related to Mr. Sheriff Thorpe, was the expressions I have stated the sheriff to have used, as applicable to the marquis Wellesley; for I should state, that the whole of the evidence that I have now given to the House was not communicated to me by John M'Connell at one time.

Did you mention those remarkable circumstances of having an Orange panel in his pocket, to the attorney-general, in your first interview?—I did not.

Why did you not?—Because the communication had not been made to me. I would divide the communication into two parts; the first was made to me on the Wednesday following the riot in the theatre; the second, as applicable to the Orange panel, was made to me on the following Saturday morning.

When did you mention that to the attorney-general?—That communication I mentioned to the attorney-general, in a letter written by me to him not more than a fortnight or three weeks ago.

Then you looked upon it as an immaterial point of the conversation?—As a most material one; and the reason that I did not make the communication sooner to the attorney-general was, that the attorney-general himself was acquainted with the fact, I believe, in one hour after it had been communicated to me. I have good reason to believe that the attorney-general had the information on paper from John M'Connell an hour afterwards. He was sent for to attend the castle, was there examined on oath, and the fact of the sheriff having said that he had an Orange panel in his pocket, for the trial of those traversers, was then sworn to by John M'Connell.

Mr. William Poole called in, and examined

By Mr. J. Williams.—What is your situation in life?—I follow no profession or business at present; I occupy some land in the county of Dublin, which I hold to my advantage. I have been a member of the corporation since 1802; I represent the corporation of brewers; they are composed of very respectable members.

You remember the time of the trial of the persons charged with committing a riot in the theatre?—I do, perfectly.

Do you remember about the time of the alleged riot and those trials, having any conversation with Mr. Sheriff Thorpe on the subject of the jury?—I had a few words on the subject of a jury, but it was before the riot took place at the theatre; it was on the commission grand jury for the city of Dublin, where I have been in the habit of attending, and have been very high on the panel, and I spoke to sheriff Thorpe, en passant, one day in Sackville-street, saying, "I should wish to be on the next commission jury;" and he said, it should be so.

When was that?—About the middle of November.

What pased between you and Mr. Sheriff Thorpe?—I requested to be on the jury the next commission, and he said I should be so.

Did you see Mr. Sheriff Thorpe again, either before or shortly after the trials of the alleged rioters?—I did not see sheriff Thorpe, to speak to him, on the subject of the grand jury, until after the jury were sworn, and then I saw him in the Sessions house and spoke to him.

What passed between you upon that occasion?—I spoke to sheriff Thorpe in remonstrance; I thought he had treated me ill, by not putting me on the jury; and he said he had a very hard card to play, and many parties to please. I told him that was no affair of mine, but that I felt he had left me off the jury for party purposes, and had broken his word, and that, as such, I felt he was not a proper person to fill that situation of sheriff.

What circumstances did you allude to?—I alluded to his not placing me on the panel of the grand jury, and to the circumstance of the trial of the rioters.

To what did you allude when you used the word "promise?"—To the conversation we had in Sackville-street, en passant.

What did Mr. Sheriff Thorpe say to that remonstrance?—He said he had a very hard card to play; it was impossible he could please all parties.

You were understood to say something about leaving you out for party purposes?—Yes, I said that he had left me out of my place in the jury, for I had been in the habit of being very high on the jury, for party purposes; that he had broken his word for party purposes, and I felt that he had acted improperly.

What did you mean by leaving you out for party purposes?—What I meant was this, because I abided by the king's letter; and in I the election for the brewers' corporation, the I respectable part of that corporation, with my own exertions, put out a Mr. Sutter, who made himself very conspicuous in dressing the statue of king William, and in acting in collision with his majesty's government in opposing their measures.

Had that Mr. Sutter once belonged to the brewers' corporation with you?—He did.

Had you contributed to expel him, Sutter, from that corporation?—I certainly voted against him.

When you made those observations, did Mr. Sheriff Thorpe make any answer to you?—He said he had a very hard card to play and that, "conciliation-men" would not do for that jury; or words to that effect.

Was that after you had said, that you were omitted for party purposes?—Yes.

Do you know whether Mr. Sheriff Thorpe is acquainted with that Mr. Sutter?—Intimately.

Do you know of any cause for your being omitted from that panel, except what had passed with respect to Mr. Sutter in the brewers' company?—I do not.

Had you ever any difference with Mr. Sheriff Thorpe before your being omitted?—We never agreed in politics. We have not been connected, we have not mixed much together.

After this conversation upon the subject of your omission, did any thing further pass between you and Mr. Sheriff Thorpe?—I do not think I saw sheriff Thorpe, until the quarter's assembly after; I was going down stairs, and sheriff Thorpe got hold of my hand; he said, "I hope every thing will be forgiven and forgotten, and we shall be friends:" I walked down and took no notice. Connected with this, I would mention, that he asked me to his civic dinner, and pressed me to go; I said, if I dined in town I would; but, at the same time, I had no intention of going, and so I dined in the country; there is another dinner follows a week after that, and I was invited to that, but I did not go.

Has there been any other quarterly assembly, since the one of which you have been speaking?—There has been one last April.

Did you see Mr. Sheriff Thorpe at that quarterly meeting?—I certainly did, in the chair.

Did any thing pass between you and Mr. Sheriff Thorpe upon that occasion?—This Mr. Sutter is returned for the merchants; he got up to move a resolution for a committee to prepare a vote of censure and petition to this honourable House, condemning the measures of the attorney-general for Ireland; I opposed him, and moved an amendment; and I was seconded; but Mr. Sheriff Thorpe declared the measure to be carried, and refused putting my amendment.

By Col. Barry.—What was your reason for asking to be on the grand jury?—One of the reasons was, that it was my right to be on it from my standing on the corporation; another reason was, there was a Mr. O'Meara, whom I had known for some years, he called upon me to say, that he saw my name on the panel and to request I would attend on the next jury; I said I had no objection; he began stating the case with respect to some affair that occurred between him and lord Rossmore, about seventeen years back; I interfered, and said, if I was one of the jury I would do every justice, but he must pardon me from hearing one word upon the subject till the witnesses came into the jury-box.

Did you apply to sheriff Cooper, to be on the jury?—I did.

What reason did you give to him?—Alderman Smith wished me to be on the jury, and he expressed his Surprise; he said "MR. Poole I regret that you are riot, to be on panel; that speech you made at the brewers corporation, that conciliation speech is the rear son you are not to be on the jury; sheriff Thorpe will not put you on., I would recommend to you to go over to sheriff Cooper and speak to him on the subject"

What had Mr. O'Meara to do with the grand, jury?—There were bills of indictment preferred against him, and he called upon me to request I would attend upon that panel. I met sheriff Thorpe and said, "I wish to be on this commission jury." "You shall be on it, he said, "certainly."

Was it before or after you applied to sheriff Cooper, that you had; that conversation with. O'Meara?—Before; for I applied to sheriff Cooper not more than three days, before the jury was struck.

Were you acquainted with the circumstances attending the accusation against Mr. O'Meara?;—I was not. I heard it was some transaction with reference to lord Rossmore, and nothing more I know of it.

By Sir G. Hill.—Do you consider sheriff Thorpe as a high party man, in Dublin?—I do. He is what is called a "Protestant ascendancy man."

By Sir J. Stewart.—You have said, that one of your objects for being on that grand jury was, that you considered it your right?—ofes, from my standing in the corporation.

Was it a presenting grand jury?—It was hot. It was a commission grand jury.

Is it usual for men in your high station in the corporation, to solicit to be on the commission grand jury?—It is generally the practice in the corporation, that any member of it who wishes to be on a particular jury, if they merely signify their intention to the sheriff, they are put on.

What answer did Mr. Sheriff Cooper give you when you applied to him?—Sheriff Cooper said, that he felt that I ought to be on the jury; but, says he, "it is not my quarter, I have not the impanelling of the jury; but go up to sheriff Thorpe, he has the panel in his pocket; he is attending the recorder's court, and I dare say he will arrange it for you." I went out of the gate with that answer; but. I never went to sheriff Thorpe; I felt indignant, and determined not to let myself down.

Will you attend to the statement which has been made to the committee respecting you, I and state whether it is correct?—[An extract was read from the evidence of Mr. Sheriff Cooper, of yesterday.]

Is there any part of sheriff Cooper's testimony, which you have just heard read, which, you object to in point of fact?—I think for the most part it is not founded on real fact the, only part that I conceive of that, that I know to be true, is that in which he says, he referred me to sheriff Thorpe at the Session house, who had the panel in his pocket; as to the rest I know nothing about it.

As far as it states What passed between you and sheriff Cooper, is it correct?—As excusing himself by saying it was Sheriff Thorpe's quarter, and he would not interfere, and to go up to sheriff Thorpe at the court, that is perfectly correct; as to the rest I know nothing about it.

By Mr. R. Martin.—Where was it you were advised to;go?—To the recorder's court, who was sitting.

Did you, in the recorder's court, make this request to sheriff Thorpe, to beg to be put on the grand jury panel because otherwise justice could not be done to Mr. O'Meara?—It was impossible that I could have made such a request in the recorder's court, because I never there.

Did you make that request to sheriff Thorpe, and for that reason previous to the impanelling of the grand jury?—I did not.

By Colonel Barry.—You were understood to have made application to. sheriff Thorpe, to place you upon that panel?—I said, I thought he ought to do it; or, I should be obliged to him if he would place me on it, or place me upon the panel next commission that took place.

Did you offer him any inducement for doing so?—None; whatever.

Did not you tell Mr. Sheriff Thorpe, that if he placed you upon that panel, in order to try Mr. O'Meara's case, you would not divide on the play-house riot?—I did not make any compromise or offer; if the House thinks proper, I will give an explanation, as I was really indignant at hearing such a speech—[The witness was directed to withdraw.]

Mr. Bennet

wished the witness to be; admonished to conduct himself with that decorum which was befitting the assembly he was addressing.

Mr. Abercromby

was of opinion, that as the hon. member for Armagh had made a particular allusion to the witness, the latter ought to be allowed to give an explanation of what he conceived to be a misunderstanding on the part of the former. The witness ought certainly to be admonished not to allude personally to any member.

Mr. Bennet

said, that independently of the allusion of the hon. member for Armagh, the witness's whole manner was quite indecent. The committee ought not to suffer itself to be brow-beaten thus. The witness bad made the most unbecoming exhibition he had ever beheld at the bar of the House.

Sir J. Newport

observed, that if the witness had answered with some degree of warmth, it was, in consequence of the violent tone which hon. members had assumed towards him.

Mr. Forbes

said, that the witness must have been something more than marl to have tamely borne the badgering to which he had been subjected. In his opinion the witness had displayed that proper degree of spirit which every honourable man ought to exhibit when his veracity was attempted to be impeached [Hear].

Mr. Alderman Wood

concurred in the sentiments of the hon. member who had just Sitten down; and added, that it was a very common practice in the city of London, for gentlemen to ask the sheriffs to place them upon the grand jury.

Mr. R. Shaw

was quite sure that the witness meant no offence whatever to the House.

[The witness was again called in.]

Chairman.—William Poole, in the answers you shall give to the questions which are asked you, you will not forget the respect which is due to this House; you are to consider all questions, from whatever quarter they may be put (which is a matter merely of convenience in form), as being put by the chairman; you will therefore, take care to avoid making any personal reflection on the person who may happen to put them, or any allusion to persons who may put them; but in giving yon this warning, it is not my intention, nor the wish of the House, to prevent you from saying any thing in explanation which you may think necessary for your own justification.—I never had the slightest intention to be guilty of any disrespect.

By Mr. J. Williams.—Did not you tell Mr. Sheriff Thorpe, that if he placed you upon that panel, in order to try Mr. O'Meara's case, you would not divide on the play-house riot?—I never did offer any such compromise.—[The witness here stated several particulars relative to the general arrangement of grand juries.]

By Mr. Scarlett.—From your knowledge of the state of party feeling in Dublin, were the gentlemen selected on the grand jury, likely to have very strong party feelings?—I think the majority of them have very strong party feelings.

Were the feelings of those jurors so well known; that Mr. Sheriff Thorpe must have known that they had strong party feelings?—I am clear, that he was aware of their feelings.

By a Member.—Do you suppose it possible, in the present state of party in Dublin, to select three-and-twenty men, who have not strong party feelings?—I do; I think there could be a jury who would act with strict correctness and conscientiousness, and many such might be found in the city of Dublin, if those who impanelled them thought fit to Select them.

By Sir G. Hill.—Do you consider that those individuals in Dublin, who possess the same political sentiments with yourself, are of that class of impartial men that you have described might be selected for the grand juries in the pity; of Dublin?—Yes; I know of men of moderate opinions, that are loyal to their sovereign and to the Constitution, that do not wish to outrage the feelings of their countrymen by any hostile acts; I know many of them that could be got.

Mr. James Troy called in, and examined

By Mr. J. Williams.—What is your situation in life?—A silk-manufacturer of Dublin.

Were you in Dublin at the time of the alleged riots at the theatre, and afterwards, when some bills were presented to the grand jury?—I was.

Were you before that jury on the day the bills were ignored, or on the former day?—I believe, the former day.

Were you examined before that grand jury?—I was.

To what point were you giving your evidence?—Relative to a transaction that occurred in a tavern, in Essex-street, the night of the riot at the theatre.

A transaction concerning what persons?—A number of persons that were indicted. Mr. Forbes, Brownlow, Graham, and others.

You have named the whole of the persons that you have designated, have you?—There were others in the indictment, that I do not recollect.

Had you seen some or other of those persons that you have now spoken of, at a tavern? On the night on which the alleged riot took place?—I had.

Did you state, what you had heard them say and do, to the grand jury?—I did.

Who examined you?—I was examined by several. I was in about a quarter of an hour.

How came you to quit the room in which the grand jury were?—After undergoing examination, I was told they were done with me.

Had you stated all that you had to say to the grand jury?—I think not the entire.

How did that happen; why not?—As far as I recollect at the time, I stated the occurrence that happened in the tavern; but there might be a part of the transaction that occurred there, that did not immediately come to my mind while in the grand jury room.

Did you state to the grand jury all that you knew, or if you did not, how did it happen that you did not state it all?—It occurred when a question was put to me, in giving an answer; before my answer was entirely delivered, I was interrupted by a fresh interrogation.

Did you name the persons that were supposed to be included in that charge?—In relating the transaction as it occurred, I was desired, by two of the jurors not to name any person who might have expressed himself in any way, whom I did not know by name, the night the transaction occurred.

Before, that time, had you stated that you did not know, their, names the night yon saw them at the tavern, but you learnt their names since?—I had.

Did you mention to the grand jury, when those observations were made, to you, that you knew the persons of the men?—I did.

And that you had since learned their names?—I did.

Was it after that, that those observations were made to you by two of the grand jury?—It was.

How long before you quitted the room was it, that these observations were made to you by two of the grand jury?—A considerable time before I left the room.

Mr. George Farley called in, and examined

By Mr. J. Williams.—What is your situation in life?—An attorney.

Were you examined before the grand jury upon the subject of the alleged riot at the theatre?—I was. Upon the subject of a conversation that took place in a tavern, in which I was sitting, kept by a person of the name of Flanagan, in Essex-street.

Had you seen some persons, and heard some expressions from them at that tavern?—I had. There was a Mr. Forbes, a Mr. Graham, and Mr. Atkinsons, and a Mr. Brownlow.

Did you give any evidence respecting the persons you had seen, and what you had heard, at that tavern?—I did.

Did you name any one person that you had seen and observed at that tavern?—I named two Mr. Atkinsons, Mr. Graham, Mr. Brownlow and Mr. Macintosh, as persons, that, I knew by name. I mentioned that there was another person sitting in the box opposite to me, whose name I did not know at the time that I was sitting in the tavern. I was told by the jury, not to mention the name; to say nothing that I did not know of my own knowledge, then said, that although I did not know his name at the time, yet that I had learnt that his name was Forbes.

Was any remark made by any of the jury, on your saying that you knew the person of that man?—I was called upon to state what I had heard in the box; and in mentioning the name of Forbes I was again interrupted, and told not to mention the name of any person except I knew it of my own knowledge; I then said I had seen him that morning in court, that I was told his name was Forbes, and that I had no doubt of his being the person that I saw in the tavern. Then I was asked to mention the conversation that I heard, and I repeated almost every tiling that I heard in the box upon that occasion; and I must say, that I was very frequently interrupted by some of the jury when I mentioned the name of Mr. Forbes.

In what manner?—"You are not to, say any thing you do not know of your own know ledge."

Did you observe whether the foreman took any part in it?—He seemed to take the most active part of any of them. He told me twice, not to mention the name of any person that I did not know of my own knowledge. He put the; questions; he asked me occasionally what was said in the tavern; what I had seen there; and when I happened to mention the name of Forbes, because I did not know him the night I saw him in the tavern, I was told not to say any thing at all about him.

At that time, did any other of the grand jury interpose?—There was a gentleman who sat on my left desired that I should be heard; for two or three were putting questions at the same time to me; I was mentioning something, and was interrupted.

Upon that gentleman on your left hand desiring you should be heard, what was said?—I proceeded then with my examination.

Was there any further interruption?—I do not think there was; I very shortly afterwards left the room. When I had finished what I had to say, I was told of course that they had done with me.

By Colonel Barry.—Were not you suffered to state every fact that came within your knowledge that happened at that tavern?—I think I was, except as to the name of Forbes. From the interruptions, I did not feel myself easy in the room; but certainly I did at the time mention every thing that occurred to me, and was allowed to do so.

By Mr. Plunkett.—Did the jury receive this evidence of yours as against a person of the name of Forbes, or against a person unknown?—I cannot say.

Was the bill ignored against Forbes?—I have heard it was.

After some further questions of an unimportant nature, the witness was ordered to withdraw. The House resumed, and the chairman obtained leave to sit again.