HC Deb 14 May 1857 vol 145 cc262-3

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why William Cuffey had not participated in the general amnesty granted in the spring of last year by Her Majesty to all political prisoners? It would be in the recollection of the House that, on the declaration of peace, a general amnesty was issued under which all political prisoners were set free. Some twenty-eight prisoners obtained their freedom, and some of them returned to this country; but for some reason or other William Cuffey had not yet been set at liberty. This had been brought under his notice by a report in the Hobart Town Daily Courier, dated February 14, 1857, of the proceedings in the Legislative Assembly there. A member asked Mr. Nairn, the representative of the Government,— The cause why an absolute pardon similar to those granted recently to all other political offenders (excepting those who absconded from this island), had not been issued to W. Cuffey, who was transported to this colony as a Chartist some years ago, and whose conduct here is understood to have been such as to deserve consideration? To this Mr. Nairn answered,— In July, 1855, an application was sent home for a conditional pardon, which was recommended by the Governor. No answer had been received to that despatch, nor had any despatch been received respecting an absolute pardon. Cuffey's conduct had been good. He was sure that there must have been some omission or negligence on the part of the authorities at home, or Cuffey would have received his pardon with the other prisoners.


said, there had been no difference made between Cuffey and any other of the political prisoners. A pardon was passed under the Great Seal to all political prisoners, and a list of them was transmitted to the colonial authorities, on which list was the name of William Cuffey. It was quite possible that there might have been some delay in restoring him to freedom, in consequence of a necessary reference to the law officers as to the form in which the pardons ought to be made out, and it might be possible that the despatch containing their decision had not arrived at the colony at the date referred to by the hon. Gentleman. The delay, however, would apply equally to all the prisoners, for no difference had been made, and as Cuffey's name was on the list he would receive his pardon at the same time as the others. He had no doubt, however, but that the man had been set at liberty before this.