§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
said, he wished to put a question to the noble Lord the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. It appeared that an unfortunate man, named Edward Murray, the son of a gentleman formerly an officer in the British Army, and who belonged to a family many members of which had served with distinction in that Army, was some three years ago, whilst in Italy, accused of certain crimes and offences, but what it did not clearly appear, and thrown into prison, where he had been exposed to a great deal of very ill treatment for the long period of nearly three years. He was, however, lately tried in some sort of way in the Papal dominions, and had been sentenced to death. It was alleged that in consequence of a political crime being imputed to him, he was denied some of the advantages and privileges accorded to ordinary criminals in the means of preparing his defence. However that might be, he had been certainly sentenced to death. It appeared that our Consular Agent at Ancona was perfectly aware of the facts at the time of the alleged crime, and that gentleman had expressed an opinion that the prisoner was not guilty of the crime imputed to him. He (Lord D. Stuart), therefore, wished to ask the noble Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether the attention of the Government had been called to those circumstances with regard to a British subject, either by our consular agents or in any other way—whether they had taken any steps or proposed to take any steps in order to ascertain whether Mr. Murray bad had a fair trial—and whether they intended in any way to intercede so as to make it certain that no injustice had been or would be inflicted on him? Also, whether there would be any objection to laying the correspondence that had taken place on the subject on the table?
thought the most satisfactory manner in which he could re- 1194 ply to the question of the noble Lord would be by giving, as briefly as possible, a summary of what had taken place with regard to Mr. Murray, and of the course which the British Government had pursued. Mr. Murray, who was the son of a British officer, entered the army of Rome under the Republican Government, and, having been for some time a military officer under that Government, he was subsequently appointed to the office of inspector of police in the town of Ancona, still, of course, under the same Government. During Mr. Murray's tenure of that office, very great disorder prevailed in Ancona, and murders took place very frequently, even in the streets, and in open day. These murders were of a political character—that was to say, that he (Lord Stanley) believed in every case the parties murdered, or attempted to be murdered, were adherents of the old Papal Government: and so openly were these crimes committed, and so entire was the impunity of the perpetrators, that Mr. Murray himself fell under the suspicion of having in some manner connived at them. The foreign Consuls, and other residents at Ancona, felt it their duty, in that state of affairs, to forward a remonstrance to the Government of Rome. The Government at Rome took immediate steps on the subject; several persons were arrested under suspicion of being privy to the assassinations committed, and among those arrested was Mr. Murray, who was sent first to Spoleto, and afterwards to Rome. Whether the case was inquired into or not, he (Lord Stanley) did not know, but it was certain that after a short imprisonment Mr. Murray was released by the Government. He remained in Rome for a considerable period, and at the time of the overthrow of the Republican Government he retired again to Ancona, where, on the 15th of July, 1849, he was a second time arrested by order of the Papal Government. He (Lord Stanley) was sorry to say it was perfectly true that, from July, 1849, to the present time, Mr. Murray had been detained as a prisoner. He (Lord Stanley) must, however, state that Mr. Moore, the British Consul at Ancona, had communicated on the subject with Mr. Freeborn, the British Consul at Rome, and in consequence of these communications, when Mr. Murray was taken as a prisoner to Rome for trial, Mr. Freeborn lost no time in calling the attention of the Papal Government to the case. Mr. Freeborn at the same time in- 1195 formed the British Government of what had occurred, and received in return from the present Secretary for Foreign Affairs instructions to watch the case, and to report to him upon it. Mr. Freeborn obeyed those instructions, and, having in the month of February forwarded a representation to the Government of Rome on behalf of Mr. Murray, in April he wrote again on the same subject, praying for a speedy conclusion of the trial, and also urging that in consequence of the illness of the prisoner some relaxation of the prison rules should be allowed. To that communication Mr. Freeborn received an answer on the 4th of May from the Government of Rome, to the effect that the trial was then concluded, and that sentence of death had been pronounced. Upon receiving that notice, Mr. Freeborn wrote a third time, praying for some mitigation of punishment, or that at least a respite might be granted. A petition to the same effect was also forwarded to the Papal Government from various English residents in Rome. When accounts of these proceedings reached the British Government, an immediate communication was sent to the British Minister at Florence desiring him to take steps in support of Mr. Freeborn, and communications were also sent to Mr. Freeborn by Her Majesty's Government, expressing their satisfaction at his conduct, and urging him to continue to exert himself to the utmost of his power to prevent the sentence of death from being carried into effect. It was of course necessary that, in this matter, very considerable discretion should be left to Mr. Freeborn, who had enjoyed the advantage of unrestricted communication with the prisoner's counsel, and who was much better informed on the subject than the Government of this country could be. Mr. Freeborn had accordingly been instructed, if he considered Mr. Murray innocent, to interfere and take steps to procure his immediate liberation; or, on the other hand, if he was inclined to believe that Mr. Murray had been justly accused, he was then desired only to interfere so far as to plead for a respite, and to prevent the capital sentence from being carried into execution. Within the last few days a report had reached this country that Mr. Murray had been taken to Ancona, it was supposed with a view to the sentence being carried into effect. A telegraphic despatch was sent off to the British Consul at Trieste, desiring him to communicate with the Consul at Ancona, 1196 in order that every means might be used by the latter to save Mr. Murray from execution. A subsequent communication had been received from Ancona, in which Mr. Moore stated that, fearing an order might come down for the immediate execution of the sentence, he had written to the Governor of Anoona, praying that in any case twenty-four hours' notice might be given to him (Mr. Moore) before the sentence of death was carried out; and that he had also drawn out a very earnest protest praying the Governor of Ancona, if the Government of Rome should send an order for the immediate execution of Mr. Murray, to take upon himself the responsibility of suspending the infliction of the punishment. This was a statement of all that had been done by Her Majesty's Government on this subject up to the present time. As the negotiations were still pending, he (Lord Stanley) did not think it desirable to produce the papers at the present moment; but when the negotiations were terminated, the papers should be laid upon the table.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
said, he wished to know whether, on Mr. Murray being arrested, the British Consul at Ancona, or any other agent of this country, had communicated the fact to the Government here at home; also, whether the noble Lord could state what the crime was with which Mr. Murray was charged?
was glad that the noble Lord had given him an opportunity of correcting a misstatement which he (the noble Lord) had fallen into in his former address. The noble Lord had intimated that the offence for which Mr. Murray was arrested, had been altogether of a political character; but though it was undoubtedly connected with the state of the country, and with the state of political feeling at the time, he (Lord Stanley) did not think it could be described as the noble Lord had described it. Mr. Murray was charged with having, while holding an official situation for the repression of crime, connived at the most serious of all crimes—at acts of assassination. The charges against him were twofold: first, that he had taken no part in repressing these crimes; and, secondly, that in one instance, at least, he had directly aided and abetted in their commission. These, he thought, could not, in the ordinary meaning of the word, be called political offences. With regard to the question just put by the noble Lord, he (Lord Stanley) had already stated that 1197 Mr. Moore, the British Consul at Ancona, had communicated with Mr. Freeborn, at Home, on the subject of Mr. Murray's imprisonment, although, unfortunately, he had not thought proper to communicate with the Foreign Office on the subject.
said, that Mr. Murray was tried by a special tribunal appointed to try a largo number of persons charged with offences connected with the late disturbances at Rome.
§ MR. BRIGHT
begged to ask whether Mr. Murray had been allowed to remain in prison from July, 1849, to November, 1851, a period of two years and four months, without any distinct accusation being made against him; and whether it was a fact, that although a British subject had been thus imprisoned without any specific charge being made against him, and without being brought to trial, no person in an official situation at Ancona, or at Rome, on the part of the British Government, had reported the circumstance to the Foreign Office in this country, or had made any complaint to the Papal Government? He also wished to ask further, whether, when it was reported to Her Majesty's Government that the trial was going on, and that Mr. Murray had been sentenced, the only instruction given to Mr. Freeborn was to watch the case?
said, it was true that Mr. Murray was arrested in July, 1849, and that he was not brought to trial until two years and a half afterwards. It was also true that, during that time, no communication on the subject had been forwarded to the Foreign Office. But it was not absolutely true that no specific charge had been made against Mr. Murray, for a distinct charge had been made, as he had already stated, but it was after a lengthened delay.
§ MR. BRIGHT
would ask whether Mr. Murray's first apprehension and subsequent discharge took place under the Republican or the Papal Government?
§ MR. CHISHOLM ANSTEY
wished to ask—or, if it were more convenient to the noble Lord, he would give notice of his intention to ask—whether any negotiations 1198 on the subject had taken place between the Government of this country and the real Governors of the Roman States—he meant the French Government—and, if so, he wanted to know what view had been taken of it by those authorities? He should like also to know whether the noble Lord was able to inform the House as to the proximity of the nearest British naval force to the port of Ancona?
would suggest that as the noble Lord (Lord D. Stuart) had given notice that he meant to bring the matter forward on a future occasion, the hon. and learned Gentleman had better pospone his question till then.
§ Subject dropped.