HC Deb 14 May 1823 vol 9 cc239-45

The House having again resolved itself into a committee to inquire into the conduct of the sheriff of Dublin, sir Robert Heron in the chair,

Mr. William Lewis was called in and examined

By Colonel Barry.—What is your situation?—I am an attorney by profession.

Do you recollect going shortly after the riots to the gaol of Newgate?—I do. I Was called upon to go to the gaol of Newgate, to see if I could identify any of the prisoners that were in custody for the riot at the theatre.

Who went with you?—Major Tandy. I was shown the yard in which the prisoners were. I did not point out any person there, that threw the rattle form but I did point out the person of a man, who answered the description of the person, that I thought threw the rattle from the gallery.

Did you ever afterwards hear who that per son was?—I never saw until I saw it in the papers at Shrewsbury.

It was not George Graham?—I do not know that it was not George Graham.

You did not point out a. person that you thought was the person who threw the, rattle?—I did in this way; the man that I though threw the rattle, was a man dressed in a particular garb, and the dress of that man answered my view of him in the gallery; but I could not identify his person.

Were you told afterwards, that that was not the man?—I was not I was told that he was not then a prisoner.

Do you recollect afterwards being shown Graham?—I believe I do.

And you did not identify him?—Certainly not.

Do you now take upon yourself to say, that the man you pointed out to the under goler, was the man who threw the rattle?—I do not.

Do you now undertake to say, that George Graham was not the man who threw the rattle?—I do not.

Mr. Joseph Henry Moore, called in; and further examined

By Mr. Brownlow.—Did you attend the grand jury in January last, under the impression, that bills of capital indictment were to be preferred before you?—Public rumour spoke to that effect, and I knew nothing to the contrary, until the counsel for the crown stated, that bills would not be sent up capitally the general impression was so, certainly.

Were you aware that certain prisoners were committed capitally, for the play-house riot?—Such was the public report of the legal proceedings; I knew nothing until I heard it declared by the judge, that it had been withdrawn in a negative kind of way; I can answer that the court declared that the capital charge had been withdrawn. Until after the counsel for the crown declared that it was withdrawn, my impression was, that we were to try a capital offence.

Were not the jury sworn before the counsel for the crown stated that?—I cannot undertake to say whether it was before or after, but I believe after.

Did you attend in court under that impression?—Certainly I did.

The right hon. William Conyngham Plunkett was further examined in his place,

By Colonel Barry.—Do you recollect the petit juries that were impanelled for the trials of the ribbon-men, in the beginning of November term last?—I recollect that there were petit juries impanelled for the trial of some ribbon-men, but I do not recollect who they were.

Do you recollect whether you challenged on the part of the crown, any, or how many, of the persons so on the panel?—I am almost certain there were challenges made on the part of the crown; how many, I cannot recollect.

Do you recollect the name of Barrett Wadden?—I recollect his name perfectly.

Do you recollect that he was the only challenge made on the part of the crown on that occasion?—I do not recollect that his name was called; I did not recollect having heard his name till the present occasion.

You stated on a former day, that you had seen the rules and regulations and extracts from the books of the Orange societies, would you have the goodness to state whether it was previous to, or subsequent to, the riot at the theatre, that you saw those extracts?—Certainly subsequent; I never had communication with the person from whom I received them, till long subsequent to the riot at the theatre.

John Crosby, Graves, esq. called in; and further examined

By Colonel Barrry.—Were not you examined before the grand jury, as a witness upon the bills of indictment sent up in January last?—I was.

What was the conduct of the grand jury to you; did they behave with courtesy and fairness to you in your examination?—I conceive so, certainly.

They showed no disrespect or impatience during your examination?—Certainly not.

Have the goodness to state any thing which comes within the question put to you?—On going into the grand-jury room, a statement was made to me; "it is unnecessary to interrogate you, Mr. Graves; you will have the goodness to state what evidence you think material which you can give." I did make such a statement of the facts within my knowledge, and the jury heard them with courtesy and politeness.

Do you recollect, at any period subsequent to the 4th of November, the persons that were around the statue being dispersed by the military, and some persons being wounded in that transaction?—I recollect hearing of the circumstance.

Have you any doubt that some persons dressing the statue were dispersed by military force* without any orders from the civil power? —I heard so, I have no reason to disbelieve it.

Do not you conceive that would be an additional cause of irritation?—I certainly should contemplate it as one;

Have you ever seen the almanack for the year 1823?—I have or rather the chronicle which is placed at the close of the almanack; it is bound up with the almanack.

A sort of annals of Dublin?—Yes.

That is furnished to the different offices at the expense of government, is it not?—It is. It is stated to be published by authority.

Did you ever see the account of the business of the theatre, as affixed to those annals as published by authority?—I did see two versions. One of the copies contained one reading of it, and another another, varying in the phrase. I recollect one stating that on the night of the riot at the theatre, a heavy piece of timber, and another stating that a heavy log of wood, was thrown at his excellency.

What did it say besides the piece of wood?—A quart bottle, I believe.

Did it not state a certain description of persons it was thrown by?—Assassins, I think.

And they added that he providentially escaped its taking effect?—I think that was the statement.

You were at the theatre that night?—Yes.

Did you see such a heavy piece of timber, or heavy log of wood thrown at the lord lieutenant on that night?—No; I believe that occurrence, whatever it was, took place while I was in the act of taking Mr. Forbes, whom I had apprehended by myself and another magistrate in conjunction with me, from the theatre, to the watch house; I believe it occurred just in that interval, I did not see it.

Do you believe there was ever such a thing thrown?—I do believe a piece of timber; as to the weight of it, I have a pretty correct notion, but I can have no doubt that a piece of timber was thrown; I saw it produced upon the trial, and I saw it in the police-office.

Did it deserve the appellation of a heavy log of timber?—I think that was an exaggeration. I saw it in the police-office, and then measured it. It was precisely the head of such a rattle, as is bought in the toy-shops to go to a masquerade; less than a watchman's rattle, it weighed eight ounces and a half.

Was it proposed to you at any time, or in any place, to sign any informations respecting the persons who were accused of rioting at the theatre, or of conspiring to kill and murder the lord lieutenant, without having the "informant before you, or without examining him as to the facts staled in his information?—No; it never was proposed to us to swear those informations at all, until subsequently to the committals, when we had the witnesses before us, and when we were directed to have the witnesses before us in the first instance; we had, at the police-office, before us, in the ordi- nary course, Several witnesses appear, who had made informations before us in the ordinary course; they were taken in the usual Way, the party was attested to them, and the jurat subscribed by the magistrate, and the party bound over to prosecute, but there were other witnesses who went to the castle, who did not come to the police-office, who made statements which were taken in the shape of notes, but some of them attested by a magistrate, but we did not see them at all, till they were sent down to us to be attested, in the shape of informations; the witnesses were then brought before us, and interrogated as to the facts; they then ultimately subscribed them, and were bound over to attend the commission.

Are you to be understood, there were no informations before the committals?—I have I stated, that there were some informations in the police-office, one of the principal ones against Forbes I had myself signed; others were sworn before other magistrates; but there was a great body of other examinations not at all before us.

Did you, in any case, refuse or decline to sign any information on any account?—No.

Any committal?—I stated the facts, with respect to the committals, upon the last occasion; I did put over on another magistrate in my office the duty of signing the committal, for the reasons which I stated on my last examination; and in point of fact, I did not sign any committal.

Was it proposed to you at any time, or in any place, to sign any informations respecting the persons who were accused of rioting at the theatre, or of conspiring to kill and murder the lord lieutenant, without having the informant before you, or without examining him as to the facts stated in his information?—I have before said no.

Were you ever called upon to attest any information which you were not suffered to read?—No.

By Mr. J. Daly.—You were at the theatre on the night of the riot?—Yes.

When you were there, were you inclined to believe there was any attempt at assassination?—I can state the facts that I saw, I did not see the bottle till it was held up; it was held up, and there was a cry of shame; T did not see the fact of the bottle striking, that circum stance induced me to leave the part of the house where I was, intending to go the gallery to from, whence the bottle was thrown; in so doing, I observed that the noise and disturbance, the riot as I considered it, extended to the boxes, in those boxes I apprehended an individual, one of three in the act of using whistles; I took that individual to the watch house, and it was during my absence from the house, that the rattle, the piece of timber was thrown.

While you were, at the theatre, did you conceive there, was a plan or a plot for assassination?—No.

You were absent at the time the rattle was thrown?—I conceive so, for when I came back I heard a voice addressing the house from the middle gallery, adverting to that circumstance as having taken place; and it did not take place before I left the house.

By Sir J. Newport.—How long have you been in the magistracy?—Between eight and nine years.

Have you ever known any disturbance occasioned on the ceremonies of dressing the statue, by firing off guns and pistols in the streets, and alarming the inhabitants of College-green and its vicinity?—I have reason to know that the thing took place, that there was noise and letting off of guns; and confusion, and a crowd of people assembled, some of whom felt disapprobation, and come approbation.

Were any of the depositions laid before the grand jury?—I believe not; they are not, according to the existing law, laid before the grand jury unless they are called for, which was not the case here.

Did you see any of the placards that were thrown about the theatre?—I did.

What was printed on those placards?—A magistrate sitting in the box in which I did, alderman Darley, left the box, on an intimation of what appeared on one of those placards, and went up with a view to ascertain who bad distributed them; that he failed in; he came down, and showed me three of them; on one of them there is printed, "No Popery;" on another, "The Protestants want Talbot, as the Papists have got all-but;" and "Fleming though he has got the mace, may find it hard to hold his place;" another was, "Ex-governor of the bantams must change his morning-tone."

By Dr. Lushington.—During the eight or nine years you have been a magistrate, did yon ever receive orders to prevent any riot or disturbance on the day on which the statue has been usually dressed?—I have not received them, but such orders have been given.

Do you know that any riot or disturbance ever took place on the day when the statue was dressed?—Nothing that I know of, of any importance, until the July immediately preceding its being discontinued; I did hear of such a thing occurring on July 1822, that there was something of riot, a good deal of confusion and one or two persons hurt.

Christopher Galloghly called in; and examined

By Colonel Barry.—What is your situation—A peace officer attached to the head police-office in Dublin.

Were you a witness before the grand jury, in January 1823?—I was.

How did the grand jury conduct themselves towards you when under examination?—As I conceive, as a grand jury ought to do.

Was it with civility and patience?—Yes.

They heard your whole story?—Yes.

Did anything whatever offensive happen to you, while you were in the room?—Certainly not.

Did you see much of the riot we have heard so much of?—No, I did not.

You apprehended some of the rioters?—Yes, I was with alderman Darley, when he apprehended Henry Handwich. There was a great deal of noise in the gallery, and some said that Handwich should not go; others said that Handwich must go; Handwich said he would go with alderman Darley.

Had you ever any conversation about the bottle, of which so much has been said?—I had; I was placed outside of the theatre with other peace officers; Crosby, a peace-officer, came and said, there was a bottle thrown; I proceeded with Crosby and Irwine to the gallery, and we mentioned that we heard a bottle was thrown, they all said that no such thing was thrown from that quarter of the house. I mentioned to Handwich, surely no person would be so daring, as to throw about at the representative of majesty; Handwich said, "no person there would throw it;" I replied, "if you had seen any person I conceive it was your duty to take him into custody;" and several said, they would have taken any person into custody, that they had seen throw the bottle.

William Irwine called in; and examined

By Colonel Barry.—Do you belong to the police-office?—Yes.

Were you a witness before the grand jury, in January 1823?—I was.

How were you treated, when you were brought into the grand jury room?—With civility, as gentlemanly conduct as could be.

The House resumed. The chairman reported progress, and obtained leave to sit again.