HC Deb 06 August 1866 vol 184 cc2098-9

said, in reference to a question privately given to him by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Neate), it was true that one of the statements which he had made on a previous evening did appear to those who looked only at a single passage of the Report, without reference to the context, to be at variance with the statement of the Commissioners. He had stated that the outbreak in Jamaica was preceded by certain symptoms of an intended disturbance, and that drillings which had been proved to have occurred, afforded evidence that the outbreak was not accidental, but planned. This statement appeared to be contradicted by a passage from the Report of the Commissioners which he would beg to be allowed to read — It appears also that in one parish two or three threatening letters were addressed to several persons, and that drillings were supposed to be taking place. Notwithstanding the alleged fact that threatening letters were previously unknown in the island, we were unable to attach any importance to those brought to our notice. As regards the drillings it was found upon investigation at the time that they were wholly unconnected with illegal objects. On examination, however, it would be seen that the passage he had just quoted did not refer to the drillings in Morant Bay, which immediately preceded the outbreak. The drillings alluded to in the passage he had quoted were drillings which had taken place some months previously in another part of the island, and the drillings to which he referred in his remarks of the other evening as having preceded the outbreak were described in another part of the Report. At page 13 of the Commissioners' Report, it is stated that for a week before the 11th of October there had been systematic drilling at Stony Gut, and that the men on those occasions assembled with cutlasses, sticks, and lances, and were exercised in companies under the directions of a man called Colonel Bowie, Paul Bogle and others; and a witness named Grant stated, that on one occasion, upon a signal from Bogle, not less than 300 negroes came out, variously armed, fell in in three companies, and were drilled under their various leaders. It was to these drillings that he referred the other evening, when he mentioned them as a proof of the existence of organization among the negroes before the outbreak.