HC Deb 25 July 1879 vol 248 cc1335-72

rose to call attention to the case of Edmund Galley, and to move— That the innocence of Edmund Galley of the crime of which he was convicted at Exeter in 1836 has been established beyond all reasonable doubts; and that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty graciously to grant a free pardon to Edmund Galley. The hon. Baronet said, the case had excited considerable interest, and he regretted that the Home Secretary had not thought fit to yield to the general expression of public opinion and the representations of the Lord Chief Justice of England with regard to it. No doubt, a long period had elapsed since the murder of Mr. May; but he (Sir Eardley Wilmot) had yet to learn that time sanctioned injustice and wrong, seeing that, in addition to the testimony of the Lord Chief Justice, they had the opinion of other eminent men that the accused had established an alibi, and that he had been improperly convicted. The facts of the case were these:—On the 16th of July, 1835, there was a fair held in the town of Moretonhampstead, situated some 12 or 14 miles from Exeter, and half-way between the latter city and a small village called Dunsford. That fair was attended by a substantial yeoman or farmer named May, who rode into Moretonhampstead, and who, having received various sums of money, set out at night from a public-house on his way home. Just outside the town there was a gate kept by a man named Nosworthy, and this man saw the farmer ride through the gate, perfectly sober. Between 12 and 1 o'clock in the morning two other persons, returning from the fair, saw, a little way up the road, a horse without a rider, and, subsequently, the farmer was discovered unconscious and insensible. He died. At first, suspicion rested on a man named Avery and a woman named Harris; but there was not sufficient evidence to fix the crime upon them, and the latter was eventually discharged, Avery being detained in custody for another offence. Subsequently, statements were made implicating a man named Oliver, who went under the name of "Buckingham Joe," and the man Galley, who at that time was in custody in Coldbath Fields Prison, and who was arrested in consequence of his having lost a tooth, and of his having answered to a description given by the woman Harris. They were apprehended, and tried before Mr. Justice Williams, at Exeter, in July, 1836. Oliver was defended by Mr. (now Sir Montague) Smith; while the case of Galley, who was a poor man, was taken up by Mr. Cockburn, the present distinguished Lord Chief Justice of England. During the trial Edmund Galley protested his innocence, and more than once was heard to say to his fellow prisoner, Joseph Oliver—"You know I was not there, and I don't know you." It appeared that the principal witness for the prosecution was a woman named Harris, who at the time was living with a man named Avery. She swore to meeting Oliver and Galley on the night of the murder near the place where, and about the hour when, it was committed, and recognized the prisoners as the men who jumped from a hedge, and murdered the man May. There was also some other evidence tending in the same direction. Charlotte Clarke, however, swore that Galley was not the "Dick Turpin" who was supposed, with Oliver, to have committed the murder. Galley was not defended; but a witness named Avery swore that Harris could not have seen the murder committed, because she was in Exeter with him at the time, and the murder was committed several miles outside that city. Both, prisoners were, however, found guilty, and then Oliver, who had not said a word before in regard to Galley, addressing the Judge, said—"My Lord, you are surely not going to send this innocent man to the scaffold. He was not there, and I never saw him before until we were in gaol together." The strong protest of Galley, and the declaration of Oliver, made such an impression upon the counsel and one or two gentlemen who heard the case, that an effort was made at once to obtain a respite. Only 48 hours elapsed between the verdict and the time of execution; but a reprieve was obtained for Galley, and a Mr. Cherer, the shorthand writer, who took all the notes of the evidence in the case, got up every incident that could be obtained to prove an alibi, came up to London, and had an interview with the late Earl Russell, then Secretary of State for the Home Department, who deputed Sir Frederick Roe, then Chief Magistrate at Bow Street, to inquire into the alibi of the prisoner. Sir Montague Smith had stated that he felt such an interest in the matter at the time that he went down with Sir Frederick Roe to examine into the truth of the alibi, and he returned to London perfectly satisfied that the alibi was made out. In fact, he had written to say— I am certainly of opinion, rightly or wrongly, that Galley's case was one of mistaken identity, and that he was wrongly convicted. A magistrate saw Galley at the gaol, and the prisoner told him that on the day of the murder he was at Dartford in company with two men. Afterwards, Galley said he had recollected that there was a third man. There had been no time to communicate with Dartford; and, in the meantime, a letter came from Dartford stating that Galley, on the day in question, was at that place in company with three men. The evidence had satisfied the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Montague Smith, and others, that the alibi was distinctly made out. It had been suggested that Galley was committing a burglary on the night of the murder; and he (Sir Eardley Wilmot) had inquired if that were so, and found that there was no proof of the fact. The result, however, was, that the sentence of death was not carried out, being commuted to transportation for life—Oliver, in the meantime, having been exe- cuted—and he (Sir Eardley Wilmot) exceedingly regretted that, in the 19th century, he was obliged to ask pardon for an offence which had never been committed. He had hoped the Criminal Code (Indictable Offences) Bill would have been passed this Session. That measure provided for a Court of Appeal, which had long been due to justice, and, when once established, an innocent man would not have to go, hat in hand, to ask for pardon. After being two years in the hulks, Galley was, in 1839, sent to New South. Wales, where he had passed his life as a convict. He bore his infliction till 1877, when a letter appeared from him, written to the prosecuting solicitor, pointing out that a man named John Longley had confessed on his death-bed that he was really the man who, along with Oliver, had committed the murder, and asking that something should be done to withdraw from him the stigma of being a murderer. The letter was published in an Exeter newspaper, and the result of it was the memorable and noble letter of the Lord Chief Justice, which had appeared in the public Press. He hoped that no mere adherence to precedent would prevent this case from being re-opened, for he thought his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department ought to feel proud to do an act such as that which was now asked. At all events, he hoped this House would see that a gross act of injustice was no longer allowed to remain without reparation; for, in his opinion, it was inconsistent with what was right that the man should, after all that had occurred, be obliged to have recourse to the Secretary of State for pardon, when, in justice, he was entitled to complete vindication. The hon. Baronet concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.


in seconding the Motion, said, he had not intended to take part in the discussion, for he was not aware until a short time before he entered the House that the subject was to be brought forward. He would not go over again, either briefly or at length, the facts which had been so well placed before the House by his hon. Friend, but would content himself with a reference to the letter of the Lord Chief Justice, in which he referred to the evidence as excluding all reasonable doubt of the man's innocence, and he hoped the House would, set some value on the opinion of so distinguished a man as the Lord Chief Justice. But that opinion did not rest there. It was corroborated entirely by that of Mr. Justice Montague Smith. He could hardly imagine that any Member of the House who had read the case, and had read the letter of the Lord Chief Justice, could entertain any doubt that a very gross wrong had been inflicted. Unfortunately, the mode adopted by his hon. Friend was the only one that presented itself to have this wrong set right; but he trusted that his hon. Friend would be successful, for he felt sure that every Member would recognize the true character of the Home Secretary in the concluding words of the Lord Chief Justice when he said— I commend this case to that high sense of justice and humanity for which your administration of office has been distinguished. Of course, the Home Secretary had given his anxious and earnest consideration to the case; but the grounds upon which the right hon. Gentleman grounded his refusal to interfere in the case appeared to be these:—All the facts, he said, before him, and upon which the recommendation of his Lordship was based, were, while fresh, and while Galley was under sentence of death, brought before Lord John Russell and Lord Denman, the Chief Justice of the day; and he said the question for him to decide was not so much whether he being in Lord Russell's position would have arrived at the same conclusion, as whether at this period of time, and so long after the case, he should on the same facts overrule the solemn decision to which the then Secretary of State, acting under advice, came to. The matter had also been brought before his Predecessors, Lord Aberdare and Mr. Lowe, who had declined to interfere, and he must decline to over-rule their decision. Such were the reasons given by the Home Secretary; and he (Mr. Bulwer) thought the right hon. Gentleman had not, in his own justification, placed the case so high as he might have done, because in the letter of the Lord Chief Justice it would be found that he said—" The scene created a sensation difficult to describe, and left an impression never to be effaced." The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, might not unreasonably have supposed, after reading that letter, that the Lord Chief Justice had himself also, when in office as Attorney General, urged upon the Government of the day, but in vain, the duty of redressing this great wrong. Without trespassing longer on the time of the House he hoped that if the Secretary of State for the Home Department felt disinclined to over-rule the decisions of his Predecessors, the House of Commons, with an unanimous voice, would say to the right hon. Gentleman—"We will in this case relieve you from the responsibility." Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the innocence of Edmund Galley of the crime of which he was convicted at Exeter in 1836 has been established beyond all reasonable doubts; and that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty graciously to grant a free pardon to Edmund Galley,"—(Sir Eardley Wilmot,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, he quite concurred in the opinion expressed by the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last (Mr. Bulwer), that there could hardly be a doubt but that there had been a miscarriage of justice in this case. After the strong opinion given by the Lord Chief Justice and Sir Montague Smith—and the facts of the case were such as we could all form an opinion upon—he would ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he could feel himself justified in adhering to the determination to which he regretted to hear his right hon. Friend had arrived? The only possible ground on which his right hon. Friend could refuse the appeal of the Lord Chief Justice was that he was bound by the decision at which former Secretaries of State had arrived. He hoped his right hon. Friend would exercise his own clear judgment in the matter; and, if he did so, he would add to the high reputation which he had acquired during his tenure of his present office.


said, there had been no contradiction of the statement of facts which had been published on Galley's behalf. That statement had taken, in his (Sir Joseph M'Kenna's) opinion, the case clearly out of all rules based on precedent or official etiquette, confirmed as it was by the testimony of one who was now Lord Chief Justice; and he could not understand on what ground the Secretary of State for the Home Department could refuse a recognition of Galley's innocence. He ventured to say that there was not a Member of the House who had paid attention to the facts of the case who was not convinced that Edmund Galley was an innocent and a wronged man.


said, a largely-signed Memorial was sent to the Home Office from his constituents of Exeter in favour of a cancellation of the sentence of Edmund Galley. That Memorial was signed by leading men of all parties in politics, including the Bishop and the Dean of Exeter. He awaited with interest the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Possibly, they would be told that the House of Commons was not the place to canvass judicial decisions. He (Mr. A. Mills) agreed with that as a general rule; but there were exceptions, and he thought there were exceptional circumstances in this case which should lead them to take it up. When the Lord Chief Justice thought it right to join in the public expression of opinion in reference to this matter, he did not think it could be said that the House of Commons was debarred from taking notice of the case because successive Secretaries of State had declined to re-open the matter. An error had been committed in this case, as there had been in the case of a man named Barber, who was wrongly convicted of having forged a will. Upon a full consideration of Barber's case, compensation was given to him out of the public funds. This matter had been brought before Parliament very fairly and properly; and, though so long a time had passed since Galley's conviction, he saw no reason why justice should not be done. The question here was, whether or not such facts had not come to the knowledge of the Court and the public after the man's trial as led to a change in his sentence, that required further investigation should take place? The advocates of the abolition of capital punishment would find a strong argument in support of their view, if it were to be held that a case of this kind once decided could not be re-opened.


said, they were now called upon, upon mere hearsay evidence, to reverse the proceedings of a Court of Justice 44 years ago, and if the Motion were successful he trusted that it would not be made a precedent, because the Lord Chief Justice of England had written a letter expressing disapproval of the conviction. What would be the result of the House of Commons taking up all such cases? It was peculiarly the duty of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, after consultation with the Judges, to inquire into these cases, and advise the Crown as to the exercise of the Prerogative of mercy, and they should leave it to him. They were asked to set up a dangerous precedent; and unless he heard something more forcible and argumentative than had already reached him he should certainly vote against the Resolution.


hoped that, although so long a time had elapsed since Galley's sentence, the House would not think that its time had been wasted if, by this Motion, justice should be done to that unfortunate man, who was most unjustly punished many years ago. Galley had clearly proved an alibi, and he asked that the sentence upon him should be reversed, and that his character should be restored to him. If the same facts appertaining to this case were today laid before the Home Secretary with reference to a case of recent occurrence there could be but one opinion as to how he would act. Having regard to the old age of the man and his character, he trusted that justice would be done, and that there would be no hesitation in accepting the Motion.


said, that the judicial theory upon which the House was proceeding was a very singular one. They were asked to consider what was done many years ago upon the evidence then produced, and on which a conclusion was arrived at. They were bound in judicial matters, when considering the guilt of prisoners, to get the best assistance which the study of a life in a laborious profession could give, to hear patiently what could be said, to turn matters every way, and only to decide on the best evidence that could be produced. But what was the course the House of Commons was asked to adopt? The House was now asked to reverse all that was done. An hon. Member rose and narrated what he believed to be the facts; a number of hon. Gentlemen came down obviously with minds made up—[Cries of "No,no!"]—Hon. Gentlemen who cried "No!" might answer for themselves, but not for those who remained silent. [An hon. MEMBER: How can you answer for them?] He answered for them, because before a quarter of the case had been stated they had loudly cheered. They could not have decided upon what they had heard, but must have decided upon consideration beforehand. That was not the way justice could be done. It was no slight matter to overrule the decisions of illustrious Judges upon a narrative which they had never given themselves the trouble to verify. These cases ought not to be decided upon the opinions of any Member of Parliament. That was not the way in which justice ought to be administered. If the House of Commons should be called upon to administer justice, there would be great danger that injustice would be committed. The case was tried before Mr. Justice Williams, a most distinguished Judge, and the verdict of guilty was confirmed by Lord John Russell—no mean authority—after consultation with Lord Denman, Lord Chief Justice of England. They came to the conclusion that there was a doubt which justified the remission of the capital sentence; but was not sufficient to enable them to recommend that the man should be pardoned. Upon that ground the case had stood for 43 years. The prisoner had long since exhausted his sentence; and the question now was, whether it was wise to overthrow the decision of those eminent authorities, not for the purpose of relieving this man from punishment—because he no longer suffered any—but merely for the purpose of allowing him to come to England in order to make it as clear as possible that he had been wrongfully convicted? The question deserved more reflection than it seemed to have received. It was whether the House of Commons would undertake, on the single statement of an hon. Member, and without a particle of evidence, to overthrow the decision of two eminent Judges, given under a sense of the deepest responsibility? It was no pleasure to him to say anything in disparagement of Galley; but the truth was that he belonged to the criminal class. He might or might not have been innocent of the crime of which he was accused; but if he was charged with it, it was because he was a man who belonged to those classes amongst whom they looked for crime. ["Oh, oh!"] The Lord Chief Justice, in his letter, said that the man was a rogue and vagabond, possibly a petty thief, and, besides that, a card-sharper. Even supposing these statements to be true, they furnished no reason why he should have been found guilty of this great crime; but, on the other hand, they supplied a reason why there should not be so much sentimentality on the subject. If Galley had been wrongly convicted, he certainly had assisted very much in his own conviction by the irregular and improper life which he led. ["Oh, oh!"] Everybody knew that when a man was charged with a crime his previous life was looked into; and if it was found to have been an irregular and a wicked life, he was on that account convicted on less evidence than another man would be who had not led such a life. It was something like contributory negligence on his part. Yet now, when the Judge who tried the case had been dead for many years, when most of the witnesses had also disappeared from the world, and when it would be impossible to have a thorough investigation of the circumstances, the House was called upon to reverse the decision which had been arrived at. This was not the way in which justice ought to be administered; and he (Mr. Lowe) deliberately maintained that it was better that Galley should be precluded for the remainder of his life from returning to England than that the House should, in this violent way, overrule the decision of those who gave the most solemn consideration to the case. In his judgment, although clearly in its power, the House would be ill-advised to do anything of the kind. ["Oh!"] He was aware that he was speaking to an audience, nearly every man of which was opposed to him, but that would not deter him from speaking, his mind. Still, he thought that by assuming this sort of power in a hap-hazard way they would be doing much to undermine the respect for evidence which was the foundation of all real justice. For some little time he (Mr. Lowe) himself held the office of Home Secretary. He was then asked to go into this case, but he refused to do so. ["Hear, hear!"] He refused because, even if he had come to a decision contrary to that arrived at by Lord John Russell and Lord Chief Justice Denman, he should not have deemed it his duty to interfere after the lapse of so long a period of time, and therefore he declined to go into the question at all. [Laughter.] If hon. Members thought that it was the right and the duty of a Secretary of State, who only held office for a short period, to overthrow the decision of the most respected and most honoured men who had lived in this country, they would be adopting a principle which would render the continuity of administration of justice in this country impossible. Interest reipublicœ ut sit finis litis. If, under these circumstances, persons like himself, who had no claim whatever to any legal acumen, were allowed to overthrow the decisions of great lawyers, they would be vested with, a power which they ought not to possess. He should be no party to anything of the kind. Knowing that hon. Gentlemen generally were utterly opposed to everything he had said, he thanked them for permitting him to express his opinion. He could not allow the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department to fight this battle without saying that his refusal to re-open this matter was entirely in accordance with the precedents and the usage of the Home Office, and did the right hon. Gentleman great credit.


said, he approached the consideration of this question with great anxiety, for everyone would desire to be on the side of mercy when practicable, and still more to give his voice for correcting a wrong, if wrong had been done. But he felt bound to point out that hon. Members were asked to affirm, without preliminary investigation, that the innocence of this man had been entirely established. They were asked to address the Crown in that sense; but it appeared to him that they ought to pause before they entertained such an application. On the present occasion, they were asked to sit practically as a jury to listen to a merely ex parte statement, made after the lapse of many years, and to express, on a sudden, a decision adverse to that which had been arrived at by those who were charged by law to investigate the subject. Alarming consequences might follow from the adoption of such a course, and the injustice that would be perpetrated by means of it would be far beyond any mischief that could be incurred by a wrong decision of the proper tribunal. [Continued cries of "Divide!"] He ventured to hope that hon. Members would not press for an instant Division, but would allow him to state his views, for he was arguing strictly to the point, and he would promise to trespass very little on the time of the House. It was absolutely necessary that they should consider the character of the Motion, and the dangerous precedent which would be set if it were acceded to. One very great merit of that House was, that they had always most carefully distinguished between the legislative functions with which they were charged and the administrative functions which they intrusted to the Ministers. The responsibility which fell on the Ministers must be discharged by them, and could not be shaken off from their shoulders by anything which occurred in that House. Although, on the present occasion, the application was one for mercy, such applications could not be expected to always be onesided; and it by no means followed that the next application made to the House might not be an application to reverse, on the ground of undue leniency, the decision of a Home Secretary, and to insist on a more severe judgment being come to. This supposition was by no means extravagant, for the mind of the public, or of sections of the public, was at times as strongly moved towards severity as ever it was towards mercy in the case of a criminal or supposed criminal. In this case, it had been assumed that Galley was either guilty of murder, or that he was absolutely innocent. There was another view of the case, however, which might have been taken by the eminent persons who were charged with the duty of determining what should be done, and which was entirely consistent with the decision they expressed. An alibi was a most excellent defence, but one which it was most difficult to prove, and also one which was absolutely fatal, if it failed to be established. His conclusion was that Lord Denman and Lord John Russell were satisfied, from the facts before them, that the alibi in this case was not established. The chief magistrate of Bow Street at the time was expressly sent down to arrive at the truth of the matter and to inform the Secretary of State upon it; and although they had not that gentleman's report its effect must have been that the alibi was not established. No doubt, the conclusion of Lord Denman and the then Secretary of State was that Galley, although implicated in the crime, was not the man who struck the fatal blow; and, therefore, they adopted the intermediate course of recommending that his life should be spared. If the authority of the present Lord Chief Justice—and nobody would deny its great weight—was appealed to in this case, on the other hand, the very high authority of the Lord Chief Justice for the time being, who was charged with the responsibility of investigating this very matter, could also be cited. The hon. Baronet who had brought forward this question said that if they had had the Criminal Code they would have had a Court of Criminal Appeal, and the case would have been determined in that way. But if they had had a Court of Criminal Appeal, its decision would have been absolute and final; and, in this instance, they had had a substitute for such a tribunal in Lord Denman and the Secretary of State, who had reviewed the matter at the time. On those grounds, and thanking the House for their patience in hearing him, he hoped that the House would pause before it came to the decision, without any preliminary inquiry, that the innocence of Edmund Galley had been established.


Sir, I shall say very little about this case; but there are one or two facts with which I am struck. My right hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) said the discussion was all on one side. It was all on one side, I presume, because hon. Gentlemen present had heard the conclusive statement made by the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Eardley Wilmot). I am not sure we are competent to decide, or even to call upon the House to decide, whether this man was innocent or guilty. We must, however, recollect that this man Galley was a very poor man. My right hon. Friend says that the Lord Chief Justice declares that he was a card-sharper. Card-sharpers are not usually poor men, I dare say; but it is also said that he was a man of the criminal class. It seems to me that is very much in his favour, because I am quite sure, unless the Lord Chief Justice had the very strongest conviction in favour of the view he took, he would not ask the attention of the Home Se- cretary to a man who was a criminal and a card-sharper. Galley was a very poor man, and he was tried in barbarous times, at a time when counsel was not allowed to address the jury, and at a time when he had no counsel to defend him; at a time when we had only just passed the practice of putting men to death within 48 hours alter the sentence was pronounced. The main witness against him was a woman named Harris—a woman of a very abandoned character. She was then a convict under sentence, and, as I understand, she had a free pardon given to her in the Court in order that she might be able to give evidence. That, I think, does not add to the value of her testimony, but rather tends in the opposite direction. At the time when she says she saw the man it was very late at night, nearly midnight. It must have been dark, and her evidence was not given for many months afterwards. The rest of the evidence, I understand, consisted very much of the testimony of persons of a similar character. Now, what happened immediately after the trial? Doubts have not now arisen for the first time, 40 years afterwards; doubts arose on the very evening of the trial, and the almost universal opinion was that there had been a miscarriage of justice, and that the man Galley was not the murderer. We are told that nobody ought to interfere, and my right hon. Friend spoke of illustrious Judges. Of course, all Judges are illustrious, and I know nothing to the contrary of the Judge who tried this case. I do not even know his name, therefore I do not say a word against him in particular. But the verdict of the jury was rejected by the Home Secretary of that day, because he would not have commuted the sentence of the Judge if he had concurred in it. It therefore can hardly be wrong that a Home Secretary of this day, or the House of Commons, should come to a decision which will be consistent with the honour of Parliament, with the mercy that rests in the Crown, and with the consideration there is in this country for justice rightly administered. We are told that all the facts have been before Lord John Russell when he was Home Secretary. I do not wish to say one word deprecatory of the character of Lord John Russell, or any other Home Secretary; but I say the Office of Secre- tary of State for the Home Department is greatly over-worked, and there are many cases which come before it which cannot be sufficiently investigated. I have known such cases myself, and I have the greatest sympathy for a Home Secretary, and I wonder there should he any man to undertake the Office, with the vast responsibilities upon him of deciding cases of life and death. What has happened within the last 12 months? Four prisoners were sentenced to death on one evening, and I have heard one of the most eminent lawyers of this House say there was not a particle of evidence against one of the prisoners, and there was doubt whether a murder had been committed at all. The same Judge sentenced a man to death who has since been released. I can mention another case of a man who had recently been convicted of murder at Manchester. That man had been sentenced to be hanged; but his punishment was commuted by the Home Secretary, and it was subsequently discovered that he was innocent of the crime of which he had been convicted. [Mr. LOWE: Hear, hear!] Those are matters which ought to make us very careful. My right hon. Friend says "Hear, hear!" and for a very good reason; he has stood upon the dignity of his Office, and has not gone into the case at all after Lord John Russell, Sir George Grey, and possibly, also, Lord Aberdare had refused to re-open it. But if I wanted anything to convince me of the force of the case brought before us it would be the speech which he has delivered. My right hon. Friend has said that the man is now suffering no punishment, except that he cannot return to England. But surely, if he cannot return to England, because he has the mark of Cain on him and the brand of a murderer, it is a punishment which if we can relieve him of we ought to do so. The man himself apparently felt that he was a marked man, and had not even allowed himself to marry till the letter of the Lord Chief Justice had, as it were, purged his character. Hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite, and my right hon. Friend, may talk of precedents and of the danger resulting from the interference of the House in a case of this kind; but it is the case of a poor man who has always denied his guilt, and for whose ignorance all due allowance ought to be made. Besides, the hon. Baronet the Member for South Warwickshire has conclusively shown that there is a great probability that justice has miscarried. I ask the House what they intend to do? The lapse of time makes the weight of Galley's unjust punishment all the more excessive, and the House ought to encourage the Home Secretary to recommend the Crown not to bring this man back to England, not to take him out of slavery, but to say there has been a miscarriage of justice, and that for the rest of his life there will be taken off from him the dark spot which has so long rested upon him. In that way proof will be given to the world that, whatever may be the failings of our Judicature—and it has many failings, as Courts of Justice in all countries have—whenever its errors are discovered, the Parliament of England, even at the last hour, will do its best to remedy the damage which has been occasioned, and to do justice to an unfortunate, poor, and long-absent man.


said, he was able to assure the House that this was a case that he had considered with the greatest possible care; and he could also assure his hon. Friend (Sir Eardley Wilmot) that he fully appreciated the motives that had led him to bring it forward. He knew that the general feeling of the House would be that if any substantial injustice had been done it should be remedied as quickly as possible. With that feeling he fully agreed. He should regret as much as anyone a miscarriage of justice, if such a case were proved; and whether it had happened recently, or 40 or 50 years ago, he should be the first to come forward and endeavour to have it remedied. But, of course, in all such cases the House, instead of being carried away by feeling, ought to act as a Judicial Court. His faith in the House, however, as a High Court was somewhat shaken when he heard cries of "Divide!" after a two hours' discussion of this case. Hon. Members must remember that this was a case in which a man had been tried for murder, and murder of the gravest kind, and the case had probably occupied days before the committing magistrates, and certainly occupied the Assize Court more than one day; and yet, when an hon. Member, after a two hours' debate, was urging reasons why the favour of the Crown should not be shown, there were cries of "Divide!" [Mr. JOHN BRIGHT said, that hon. Mem- bers were objecting to a waste of time.] Waste of time ! But the speaker was simply trying to put before the House what had occurred. That was not the temper in which the High Court of Parliament should discuss—if it was going to discuss—questions of that kind. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. John Bright) had made a great deal of the fact that Galley was a poor man, and that, consequently, he could not procure witnesses or counsel; but he was tried before Judges, as many others had been, and he had received every possible leniency and liberty which he could have from the Home Secretaries. He was prepared to say that this man had not suffered one iota from the fact that he was poor. That he was tried when he could not have counsel was his fate in common with many other people; but the fact that the law had been changed since was no reason why they should interfere in this particular case. Galley was tried with a man called Oliver, who was afterwards executed; but this man throughout protested not only the innocence of Galley, but his own innocence as well; and in the end, the innocence of Galley having been so frequently asserted, the Judge who tried the case, a most eminent man, thought it right to recommend the Secretary of State to make inquiry into the matter, and it was in consequence of that recommendation that the sentence was respited in order that the inquiries might be made. He (Mr. Assheton Cross) deeply regretted that the name of the Judge had been mentioned in the way in which it had been. The hon. Baronet (Sir Eardley Wilmot) had said—


said, he had said that Mr. Justice Williams was appointed by Lord Brougham, and had been the junior counsel in Queen Caroline's case.


said, the object of making that statement must have been to disparage the Judge. ["No!"]


rose to explain, but Mr. ASSHETON CROSS refused to give way, notwithstanding that there were loud cries of "Explain!"


pointed out that the hon. Member could explain, if he desired to do so, after the right hon. Gentleman had concluded his observations.


did not wish, to pursue the subject. The hon. Baronet had made a point of this respite, and had argued that because he was kept alive there was a doubt about the matter; but the respite was in accordance with a well-established rule of the Home Office which existed at the time. That rule was a very humane one, and it was, that once a sentence was respited it was never carried out, because it was thought to be altogether wrong to keep such a fate hanging indefinitely over a man's head, pending the inquiries; and even if the Secretary of State were perfectly satisfied that a prisoner was guilty of murder, that prisoner so respited was still transported for life. Therefore, Lord John Russell did not depart from the usual practice, and the fact of transportation did not prove that there was any doubt. If the man had been hanged, it would have been contrary to all precedent, and the country would not have tolerated it. It, therefore, must not be inferred that Lord John Russell had any doubt in the matter simply because the man was transported. It was the misfortune of the man that he was a thimble-rigger, and he tried to prove that he was at a fair in Kent at the time he was supposed to have committed the murder at a place which he could not have been at. There could be no doubt that the trial excited a good deal of interest in Exeter at the time. But although that was so, still he was bound to say that he did not think the House was the proper place to argue a criminal case. The House was constituted in a totally different manner at that moment to what it was when the hon. Baronet was speaking, and it was impossible that a body composed of various persons at various times could form a judicial opinion on such a matter. The result, however, of that excitement was that a gentleman went down and collected a large amount of evidence, which was thought to be in favour of the prisoner. That was submitted to Mr. Justice Williams, who considered it very carefully. The Secretary of State at the time was Lord John Russell, and he took the course which he (Mr. Assheton Cross) thought all sensible Secretaries of State would have done. Having no more interest in maintaining the conviction of this unfortunate man than he (Mr. Assheton Cross) had, the noble Lord sent the whole case, with the evidence, to Lord Denman, who went into the whole case, and Sir Frederick Roe was afterwards sent down to examine the witnesses. Sir Frederick Roe reported to the Home Office that the evidence was not entirely substantiated. Sir Frederick Roe expressed no opinion, one way or the other, to the Home Secretary as to what he thought about the case. What more could Lord John Russell have done? He consulted the highest Official on the Bench, who went into the case most thoroughly, and reported that, in his opinion, the verdict was right. Lord John Russell, therefore, refused to interfere. Mr. Aglionby, who was a Member of Parliament, brought the case, in 1838, he thought, before Lord John Russell, who again went into it, and again consulted Lord Denman, who again considered the case, and was of opinion that the verdict was right. No Secretary of State could act against circumstances like that. The man was not sent abroad till 1839, and in 1839 the matter was brought before Lord John Russell again by Mr. Cherer. After giving much attention to the case, Lord John Russell said it did not present any reasonable ground to justify him in recommending a commutation of the sentence of transportation. He (Mr. Assheton Cross) had, he thought, shown that Lord John Russell had taken every possible pains to consider the question, he had consulted everybody he could—the Judge who tried the case, the Chief Justice, and Sir Frederick Eoe—and, having done that, he had come to the conclusion which he had stated to the House. That being so, no evidence whatever had been brought before himself (Mr. Assheton Cross) which could tend to prove that there was any change in the circumstances of the case as it had been submitted to Lord John Russell. No new facts of any description had been brought under his notice, or of any of his Predecessors, which it could fairly be said ought to have any effect in altering the decision which had been in the first instance arrived at. He would, therefore, ask the House to consider for a moment the position in which he was placed. He would say at once that, notwithstanding the respect which he entertained for his Predecessors, if any new facts had been brought before him he should not have had the slightest hesitation in giving them their due weight. If he thought an injustice had been done, he would, he hoped, have been one of the fist persons in that House to seek to remedy it. But no new facts had been brought under his notice, nor, so far as he was aware, under the notice of Lord Aberdare, or of his right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Lowe). What, under those circumstances, was he to do? Had he a better means of forming an opinion on the matter than Lord John Russell had then? Mr. Justice Williams, Lord Denman, Sir Frederick Roe, and most of the witnesses were dead. Where was he to get his information? Or was it to be supposed that the Lord Chief Justice of the present day had a better opportunity of forming a judgment on this case than had the Lord Chief Justice for the time being? Was there any Judge to whom he could refer who knew the facts of the case so well as the Judge by whom it had been tried? Where was he to obtain the knowledge which would justify him in saying that Lord John Russell had come to a wrong decision? He might add that when Lord John Russell had to deal with the question, he had to consider a very different point from that which was now laid before him, and the noble Lord came to the conclusion that there was no reasonable ground for doubting the justice of the verdict. What he, however, was now asked to do was to give Galley a free pardon, on the ground that his innocence had been undoubtedly proved. But although he sympathized very deeply with the man when he asked that the stigma might be removed from him before he died, he could not, by agreeing to the Motion, endorse the view that the whole proceedings at the trial had been wrong from beginning to end, and that the innocence of the prisoner had been completely established. He could not say that he believed the Judge who tried the man, that the Chief Justice who advised on the case, and the Secretaries of State who pronounced a decision upon it, were all in error. When the case came before him on the letter of the Lord Chief Justice he felt bound to go into the case himself; he had read through every single paper over and over again, and he did not feel justified in advising the Queen to take the course which the Motion proposed. There was no man for whom he had a higher admiration than he had for the present Lord Chief Justice; but he had also a very high opinion of Lord Denman, than whom no man was more careful of the interests and liberty of the subject, and who, if he had entertained any reasonable doubt on the subject, would have advised the Secretary of State accordingly. The present Lord Chief Justice did not speak of this case as a case which had been brought before him as Lord Chief Justice; he spoke of it as one which he had heard when a young man at the Bar, and which he said had made a great impression upon him. The Lord Chief Justice, some 30 years ago, made one of the most brilliant speeches in that House—a speech which raised him to the post of Attorney General. He held that post for some years, and had every possible opportunity of expressing his views to the Government of the day. ["Oh!"] Yes, he had. His hon. Friend who had spoken earlier in the debate said he had not the smallest doubt that the Lord Chief Justice had availed himself of that opportunity when Law Officer of the Crown and had pressed it on the Secretary of State. With regard to that, he had held, and most worthily filled, the office of Lord Chief Justice for many years; but there was not a line to any Secretaries of State which showed that he had brought the case before them, either when Lord Chief Justice or Law Officer of the Crown. Now, if the Lord Chief Justice had such a strong conviction with respect to the case, it was marvellous that he had not brought it before the Government of the day. The Lord Chief Justice said, in his letter, that he was present at the trial, and it would have been impertinence on his part, then a very young barrister, to interfere in a matter with which he had no professional or personal concern. He (Mr. Assheton Cross) said it was as much his duty then, when the matter was still sub judice, to have applied to the Secretary of State, and not to have waited for 43 years, when no inquiry could be made. He had had an opportunity of conversing with barristers who were present, and one of whom was a distinguished Officer of the House, and that gentleman assured him that among a large Bar the opinion prevailed that this man was just as guilty as the other. Well, that being so, and the question having been decided 43 years ago, he did not think he had it in his power to do what the hon. Baronet asked. The Lord Chief Justice said that the man was wholly guilty or wholly innocent; that the evidence of an alibi brought forward at the trial, if it only created a reasonable doubt of the prisoner's guilt, would, in our more merciful administration of the law, procure his acquittal. Now, if they were in that House to discuss the alibi which it might take a week to try in a Court of Justice, he was bound to say that the whole question of an alibi could never be investigated properly unless in the presence of the witnesses. In point of fact, the alibi never was tried. The test of the alibi was in the cross-examination, rather than in the examination-in-chief; and if they, sitting in that House, in 1879, without any power of cross-examination and without seeing the demeanour of the witnesses, could, 43 years after the trial, determine that the evidence on which the verdict of the jury preceeded was wrong, he was bound to say they would inflict a blow on the administration of criminal justice in this country from which it would not soon recover. He had no new facts before him; he had no better opportunity of forming an opinion than those who had preceded him in Office; he had come to the same conclusion as Lord John Russell, and he could not advise the House to accept the Motion.


hoped that it was unnecessary for him to make any protestations to the House that he was not going to answer the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department in any spirit of Party criticism. They were asking him to review a decision which, in no sense, could be considered his, but was rather that of his noble Friend, Lord Aberdare. He thought that that was sufficient guarantee that the supporters of the Motion were in no way actuated by Party motives. He had listened to the speeches of his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) and of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department with considerable bewilderment. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London had said it was not the duty of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to consider the facts of the case at all. Though regretting the possibility of a fallible decision by a previous Secretary of State, yet he did not think it the duty of the present Secretary of State to make any inquiry into the case at all. From that opinion the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department entirely differed, saying it was his duty—and he (Sir Henry James) was sure he had conscientiously discharged that duty—to make every inquiry into the facts of the case. But the right hon. Gentleman left the matter there, and asserted that it was not within the province of the House to enter into a judicial inquiry, and that it was impossible for the House to determine whether a man was innocent or guilty. But though he took that course and deprecated discussion, yet, with singular power and great ability, which made him bound to recollect his early training in the Profession to which he (Sir Henry James) belonged, the right hon. Gentleman stated every fact in support of the guilt of the man. While one view of the case had been that stated by the right hon. Gentleman, he trusted the House would forgive him if he (Sir Henry James) stated the view he took of the matter. He quite agreed that it was impossible to demonstrate with absolute certainty the innocence of any man. Then, the right hon. Gentleman said that the Motion asserted the innocence of Edmund Galley as established; he, however, then went behind the words of the Motion, and alleged that his innocence was not established. But might they not say that there were grave doubts as to the guilt of the man, and, therefore, they might take the matter into consideration. If that would meet the views of the right hon. Gentleman, he hoped that the hon. Baronet the Member for South Warwickshire (Sir Eardley Wilmot) would be willing to amend his Motion in that manner. With the permission of the House, he would make one or two observations with respect to the guilt of the man Galley. The charge was made against him under most peculiar circumstances. A man made a communication to a fellow-prisoner, to the effect that he had committed the murder together with a person named Galley. The police, without seeking for a person answering to the description of the other murderer, found a man by the name of Galley and placed him in the dock. A woman of bad character, and a confederate of the first prisoner, identified him, though it was said he was much altered. Upon that evidence the two prisoners were tried together; and it was well-known that if two prisoners, one innocent and the other guilty, were tried together, their cases were considered by the jury as a whole. At all events, the jury did not discriminate the evidence against each prisoner, but convicted them both. Edmund Galley, at the time, stated that he had been brought from a distant part of England and knew nothing of the matter. The other prisoner confessed at the last moment, and said "I am guilty, but this man convicted with me was innocent." Everyone, except the unknown gentleman whose name had never been disclosed, who witnessed that trial, had expressed his belief in the innocence of Galley. A Petition in his favour was signed by thousands of persons. Again, the present Lord Chief Justice, then a young man, was present in Court, and was convinced from what took place at the trial, and subsequently, that the man was innocent. What reply did the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department make to that? He said that they should not set aside the judgment of the committing magistrate. But that had been set aside by his own confession. The committing magistrate now asserted his belief in the innocence of Galley. The right hon. Gentleman said that if any new circumstances could be established which should prove the decision of the previous Secretaries of State to be wrong, then he would reverse that decision. Was he aware of the fact that Sir Frederick Roe, a magistrate of great experience, had expressed himself entirely in favour of the innocence of Galley? Sir Frederick Roe was sent down by the Home Office, not to express an opinion on the case, but to act as a mere scribe and take down the evidence of the witnesses. It was his duty merely to send their depositions to the Home Office. That accounted for Sir Frederick Roe not reporting to the Home Office in favour of the convict. But the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that Sir Frederick Roe expressed his decided opinion to Sir Montague Smith that the guilt of the man was not established. Sir Frederick Roe had merely to examine the evidence, and he was as impartial as could be desired; but he did express to Sir Montague Smith—who gave the Lord Chief Justice authority to make the statement public—his opinion of the truth of the evidence proving the man to be innocent. What answer did the right hon. Gentleman make to those new facts? The right hon. Gentleman said he was bound to listen to the decision of the Judge who tried the case. He (Sir Henry James) wished to speak with all respect of that learned Judge; but he might say that his chief reputation in the Profession was that of being the most comic Judge that ever sat upon the Bench. But he must protest against the doctrine of the infallibility of Judges. The Lord Chief Justice of England, who was most jealous of the privileges of his order, yet did not hesitate to come forward against the decision of one of his body, when he thought that injustice had been done. But, then, the right hon. Gentleman relied on the concurrence of Lord Denman in the verdict after reading the statements of witnesses he had never seen, and he put that judgment against the opinion of Sir Frederick Roe, who had heard and examined the witnesses. Again, the present Lord Chief Justice did hear the testimony of the witnesses upon the trial, and saw the demeanour of the prisoner, and heard the confession that fell from his fellow-prisoner. He was moved by what he saw and heard, and his opinion, supported by that of Sir Frederick Roe, who heard all the witnesses, must have far greater weight than the mere concurrence of Lord Denman in the verdict. He could not help feeling that. Lord Denman was asked to review the judgment of a Colleague, and that it was a delicate matter for one Judge to condemn the view held by another. But what did the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department say with regard to the Lord Chief Justice? He was not going to defend the Lord Chief Justice from criticism; it was unnecessary. But the right hon. Gentleman said, why did the Lord Chief Justice not make application to the Government before? He (Sir Henry James) must protest against that doctrine. It was not the duty of an unknown barrister to make representations to the Government. There were about 120 barristers upon the Western Circuit at that time, and he would undertake to say that 115 of them believed Galley to be innocent. But it was said the Lord Chief Justice had brought his mature judgment to bear upon the question, and had neglected at the time to call the attention of the Government to the case. At that time the Lord Chief Justice had no position, and it was not his duty to interfere in the matter, and his opinions now ought not to be criticized because he did not write that letter when he was 35 years of age. There was a great deal more that might be said upon this subject; but he did not wish to detain the House further. They had been told that the House should not enter into a consideration of that question in a judicial spirit. He, however, hoped that hon. Members would look at that matter in a judicial light, and vote according to their convictions, and not from any Party stand-point. Let them consider the position of the unfortunate convict. He was asking for something more than money—he was asking for the opinion of the House that there was so much doubt as to his guilt that he was entitled to- be relieved from the odium under which he had been so long suffering. By establishing the innocence of Galley no injury would be done to the reputation of any Minister, nor to society; and he hoped that the House would, at last, do justice to a man who had so long suffered from a grievous miscarriage of justice.


said, with regard to this matter, he could, perhaps, give more evidence than any other Member of the House, the man who lost his life having been one of his father's tenants. He was returning from Moretonhampstead fair to Dunsford when the supposed murder was committed. He (Sir Lawrence Palk), being at that time very young, could, therefore, speak with no more certainty than belonged to hearsay; but the report at the time was that the man was not knocked from his horse, but fell from it, and was afterwards plundered of the money in his possession. It was true that there was the evidence of a woman of very bad character, who said she saw the murder committed; but, from his personal knowledge, although the present features of the locality might not be exactly the same as they were formerly, he ventured to say that it would be almost impossible for a person to have lain hidden from observation, and yet to have seen the murder committed, for this reason—that at the spot where the supposed murder took place there was a dense copse on both sides of the road. His right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department had said that the reason why Galley was respited and transported was that there was a certain doubt as to his guilt, and that having been once respited he could not be executed. But he (Sir Lawrence Palk) believed that the reason of his transportation was, that in the minds of almost all the public in those days—and it was to be remembered that they were talking of circumstances which occurred many years ago—there existed very great doubt as to whether or not the man Galley was present. Such, at all events, was the impression which he knew to have always prevailed in the county. But he wished to say a little more than this. When the man Galley was asked if he had anything to ask the witnesses—and reading it now with a thorough knowledge, or rather recollection, of what had taken place, he was the more forcibly struck by its significance, he replied— My Lord, what questions can I ask them? I know nothing of the matter; I know nothing of the people; I never was down in these parts in my life; how should I know what questions to put to them? Of course, he could not know what questions to ask. The part of the country in question was extremely hilly and woody, and this would render it impossible for a stranger to ask a single question as to the locality in which the murder was supposed to have been committed. Passing to the statement of the man convicted, it was very much in favour of Galley. He said—"My Lord, you are not going to send an innocent man to death?" and then added, looking down, as he (Sir Lawrence Palk) well remembered, as if in pity and scorn at the little man opposite— My Lord, do you think when I was going out to do a deed like this that I should have a weak little fellow like this for my companion? Galley, as far as his information went, was utterly incapable of knocking from his horse a man like May. No doubt, two men sprung from the side of the road, but it was, in his opinion, very doubtful whether any blow was inflicted that caused his death; on the contrary, he believed that the man fell from his horse, that he was rendered insensible, and afterwards plundered. On that part of the matter there was, he thought, no doubt. But, rightly or wrongly, the man Galley had suffered a very severe punishment; and although he could not agree in any censure being passed upon the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, or his Predecessors; although he believed that the man had had every consideration paid to him; and notwithstanding his firm belief that justice had been done, yet he (Sir Lawrence Palk) thought there was a doubt as to the fact of his guilt. If that doubt did exist, he urged the House to step forward, in the character of mercy, and forgive this man. The House, he thought, could hardly be asked to vote— That the innocence of Edmund Galley of the crime of which he was convicted at Exeter, in 1836, has been established beyond all reasonable doubts, because it was utterly impossible for any man to say that; but it might very properly agree— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty's gracious pardon for Edmund Galley.


said, he could assure the House that he exceedingly regretted that anything which he had said in the course of the narrative of facts in this case should have been looked upon as reflecting upon Mr. Justice Williams. He had purposely avoided making any mention whatever of the learned Judge who administered justice in the case. With regard to the suggestion of the hon. Baronet the Member for East Devon (Sir Lawrence Palk), he was willing, with the permission of the House, to amend his Motion by substituting, instead of it, the words— That as reasonable doubt exists as to the guilt of Edmund Galley of the crime of which he was convicted at Exeter, in 1836, an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty graciously to grant a free pardon to Edmund Galley. He would, if the House would allow him, move that Amendment.


Sir, my hon. Friend (Sir Eardley Wilmot) places the House in some difficulty by proposing, at this period of the evening, to change the Motion which he has submitted to the House. I cannot think the House will accept the change which he proposes, and before the House comes to a Division upon the Motion actually before it I wish to gay, without attempting to go into the merits or details of this particular case, that what we are now called upon to do is to take upon ourselves the responsibility of re-trying this man. We are asked voluntarily, and of our own accord, to do that which the House of Commons has never been called upon to do before. We have no evidence before us upon which we can form an opinion for ourselves; and we have, therefore, no opportunity of cross-examining witnesses. We have not even the advantage of being a Court which has sat continuously during this discussion; because, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department has reminded us, many of us who are present now were not present during the entire period of this discussion. But does not that fact show how impossible it is for a Court like the House of Commons to undertake the review and reconsideration of a case like the present? In these circumstances, I feel that the House will not come to a decision with a full sense of the responsibility attaching to them.


felt the extreme difficulty of the House of Commons sitting as a Court of Appeal to decide the guilt or innocence of persons convicted in the Criminal Courts. But he had been very much struck with the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James), that Sir Frederick Roe, who was sent down to take evidence, was impressed with a conviction of the truth of the alibi which he was sent to investigate. He could not believe that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had been aware of that fact, or he would not have put before the House the statement which he made. But in the case of his not having been aware of the circumstance, he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) maintained that these were grounds for asking him to come forward spontaneously, and state to the House that facts of which he was before ignorant having come to his knowledge, if this Motion were withdrawn, he would take the matter into consideration. If that were done, he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) should certainly not vote for the Motion of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Eardley Wilmot), because he felt strongly that the House was not competent to say whether or not the man Galley was guilty. If it was desirable to ascertain that point, surely the proper way would be for the Secretary of State to refer to some of the Judges, or other persons, who, by their experience in such matters, could advise him if he were in. doubt. But he thought it was impossible to abstain from voting on this question as long as the right hon. Gentleman said he would take up his position without knowing anything of the facts, and that he would not move.


said, the statement he had made was that Sir Frederick Roe, who was accompanied by Sir Montague Smith, inquired into the truth of Galley's statement. He had authority for saying that both he and Sir Montague Smith were satisfied of the truth of Galley's statement, and that the alibi was true.


appealed to the Government to allow the hon. Baronet (Sir Eardley Wilmot) to amend his Motion, as a matter of common fairness. He used the term common fairness, because, as the Motion then stood, the House was asked to express a quasi-judicial opinion that this man was innocent. Now, there were many hon. Members who entertained the opinion that they could not fairly do that, but who could say with safety that they believed there was more than great doubt in this matter, and that the time had come when the Home Office should consider that mercy might well be exercised. He therefore hoped the Government would not stand in the way of the hon. Baronet, but allow him to amend his Motion so as to meet the wishes of the majority of the House.


said, there was no doubt that by adopting the Motion of the hon. Baronet as it stood the House would be constituting itself a Court of Appeal, and that, in his opinion, was a position which the House would not wish to occupy. He could not, therefore, support the principle involved in the Motion; but would suggest that, as doubt appeared to exist as to the guilt of Edmund Galley of the crime of which he was convicted at Exeter in 1836, an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty graciously to direct that further inquiry be made into the case of Edmund Galley.


said, it would be more than unfair towards hon. Members of the House, by any technical objection to the wording of an Amendment, to prevent them coming to a fair and distinct opinion upon the question before them. He earnestly hoped that no advantage would be taken upon the mere wording of the Amendment to evade discussion.


said, the only Petition which had been presented to him. from this man, who was, as far as his information went, at that moment perfectly happy, and undergoing no punishment whatever, asked that he might have a declaration of absolute innocence. That was also the Motion of his hon. Friend (Sir Eardley Wilmot); but to that Petition and that Motion he could not assent, inasmuch as by doing so it would be declared that the whole of the proceedings which had taken place had been wrong ab initio.


would suggest that the first sentence of the Resolution should be withdrawn, and that the House should confine itself to declaring— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty graciously to grant a free pardon to Edmund Galley.


hoped the suggestion of the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Birley) would recommend itself to the favourable consideration of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Upon the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, "that Galley was living in perfect happiness," he (Mr. Callan) would remind the House that the Lord Chief Justice, in his letter, stated that "the man had worked for many long years as a slave upon the public roads." His present position would, therefore, seem to be a change from, public to private slavery.


said, he was willing to accept the suggestion of his hon. Friend (Mr. Birley) to drop the first part of his Motion, and. simply ask that a free pardon be granted.


said, the hon. Baronet was, doubtless, aware that no portion of the Motion could be withdrawn without the consent of the House.


said, the House had got into a muddle by being asked to express an opinion as to the innocence of the person in question, and would stultify itself still further by adopting the course now suggested. The hon. Baronet had better be advised by him, and move the adjournment of the debate. If not, he (Sir Edward Colebroke) would propose to withdraw a Resolution which, in his opinion, would throw discredit upon the whole of these proceedings.


said, it seemed to him that the proposed Amendment to the Motion of his hon. Friend (Sir Eardley Wilmot) might very readily be accepted. All that was wanted was that the man should get a free pardon. The House did not want to express any reason why the pardon was granted, because they desired to guard themselves against interference with the decision of a Court of Law.


asked leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Question proposed, "That the Amendment, by leave, be withdrawn."


wanted to have the matter quite clearly understood both by the House and the country. The hon. Baronet the Member for South Warwickshire (Sir Eardley Wilmot) had had his Motion upon the Paper for a long time, and it contained an absolute assertion of the innocence of this man. That was the only way in which the case had ever been presented to him, either by Petition from Galley himself, or his friends. He desired it to be quite clear that if the Address were assented to the assertion of innocence was withdrawn. He must have certain assurance on that point. He asked the House not to come by a round-about way to the conclusion they did not mean to arrive at. The hon. Baronet had moved that it was clearly proved that the man was innocent. He (Mr. Assheton Cross) said it was not, and that it was wrong to come to that conclusion.


I wish to point out to the House that the Question before it is, whether this Amendment shall, by leave, be withdrawn? The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department has been allowed to make an explanation on that point; but a second speech on the Question is certainly not in Order. Is it your pleasure that the Amendment be withdrawn?


thought it was very much to be desired that they should come to a clear conclusion on this matter. The hon. Member opposite (Sir Eardley Wilmot) had withdrawn the opinion expressed in the first part of the Resolution; and it was, surely, unnecessary that they, as a body, should express any opinion on that subject. That was a thing from which they shrank as a body; but, of course, each Member of the House was at liberty to retain his own opinion, and the hon. Member (Sir Eardley Wilmot), amongst others, to retain his. The Secretary of State for the Home Department did claim that this Motion was not to be made the foundation for any claim on the part of Galley himself; but that man, from the first, had protested his innocence, and he, surely, must be allowed to remain in the same belief. All that was now asked of Her Majesty's Government was, that it would permit the House of Commons, acting from many different motives, to agree to this Resolution, "That the Royal Prerogative of the Crown should be exercised," an opinion in regard to which a vast majority of the House were clearly of one opinion. Therefore, he hoped that Her Majesty's Government would allow the hon. Member (Sir Eardley Wilmot) to withdraw his Amendment and propose the latter half of it. He did not wish to add any more; but if Her Majesty's Government persisted in refusing to allow it to be withdrawn, they could then act upon the suggestion of his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Birley). They could, on their own Motion, negative the Motion to go into Committee of Supply, and then alter the proposal of his hon. Friend as they chose. He hoped, however, they would not be driven to that necessity.


wished to say just one word, in order that they might not be led astray by the statement of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The issue the right hon. Gentleman seemed to raise between the House and himself was that what they were about to do was to make a declaration of the innocence of this man, while what they really sought to do was to have this man put in the same position as if there had been a verdict of acquittal by the jury. It was unnecessary to prove his innocence to entitle him to that acquittal. If a reasonable doubt was raised in the mind of the jury as to the proof, the onus of which was on the prosecution, he was entitled to an acquittal, no matter how suspicious the case might be, and though he might fail altogether to prove his entire innocence. What they wanted to do was to deal with this question of his innocence exactly now as if no such verdict had been given. It was admitted now that the respite was granted because there were not only reasonable doubts, but very substantial doubts, thrown upon the conviction at the time. What was sought to be done was really to give proper effect to the respite, and they could do that by giving the man a free pardon, without going into the question of whether his absolute innocence had been proved or not. He hoped they would not be led astray by the false issue raised by the right hon. Gentleman.

Question put, and agreed to.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty that she will be graciously pleased to grant a free pardon to Edmund Galley,"—(Sir Eardley Wilmot,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, he had no objection to this part of the Amendment. ["Order, order!"] The conduct of hon. Members in thus interrupting did not say much for the judicial spirit of the House of Commons. He assented to this Motion only on this distinct ground that the House had declined to express an opinion as to the man's innocence. ["No, no !"] He did not wish to interfere with the private feelings of any hon. Members; but the House had declined to express an opinion. ["No!"] The feeling of the House was, though not expressed in a judicial spirit, that having compassion for this old man—["No, no !"]—well, at any rate, it was true—that the House feeling very much compassion for this old man—he did not know what the feeling of the old man might be; but that was the feeling of the House generally. Hon. Members might vote as they liked; but that was how he should accept the Amendment for himself. The question now presented had never been presented to him before. No Petition had ever been presented to him for mercy; but the man had declared his innocence, and, as he understood, the House had declined to express that opinion. He was now prepared, therefore, as far as that was concerned, simply as a matter of mercy to recommend this old man to a pardon.


The matter stands a little differently from the view in which the right hon. Gentleman puts it. I am not going, in the least degree, to find fault with anything he has said; but it seems to me, after the declaration he made, that he himself, looking over the Papers, could not affirm that Galley was innocent, he was quite right in saying that it was out of his power to recommend to the Crown that a free pardon should be granted to the man on the ground of his innocence. If he had come to that opinion, it is quite clear he could not take any other course, and it is also quite clear that the House could not compel him to take that course without consequences that his Friends around him would be very sorry to see. But I must say that it would not be true to say that the great preponderance of opinion was not in favour of the hon. Gentleman who introduced this case (Sir Eardley Wilmot) that there had been a miscarriage of justice. Many hon. Members did not hear that statement; but I confess I was never more impressed by any statement I heard in this House, and I think it would be a great misfortune, and something like cruelty, if a miscarriage of mercy should go to this man in his far-off home, accompanied by an expression that, after all, the House did not believe he was innocent. I think the preponderance of opinion of the House is that he was innocent, and that the doubts that were raised at the time of the conviction show that it should not have taken place. Let us, indeed, if we are going to recommend this act of mercy, let us not send it across the sea under conditions which shall strike out of it all that is merciful, and leave the idea that we are really doing it for an old man, and that it does not matter very much what becomes of him. The right hon. Gentleman has taken a very wise course in accepting this Motion, and I hope none of us can say anything to make it appear that we wish to continue the charge and the bonds by which the soul of this man for 45 years has been troubled.


said, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Bright) had declared that the preponderance of opinion was in favour of the innocence of this man. If that was so, why had the Motion been withdrawn? He must say, he thought the Secretary of State for the Home Department had been treated with very little generosity in this matter. Everyone who had heard his speech must have seen the manner in which his heart was moved in regard to this man; but his strong sense of justice and the patient inquiry he had made had forced him plainly to the conviction he had declared. He had listened without prejudice to the statements on both sides of the House, and when the right hon. Gentleman declared his readiness to accept the Motion for mercy, and stated at the same time that he could not say he was convinced of the man's innocence, it was treating him with very scant courtesy to behave towards him in the way they were now doing. In his opinion, nothing could be worse than for the House of Commons to constitute itself a Court of Law, and to pass an opinion upon facts not existent at the present moment, but facts which existed upwards of 40 years ago. Besides, he did not like the practice of bringing forward a Motion and not putting it to the test of a Division, and then afterwards declaring that it expressed the opinion of the preponderance of the majority of the House. It was not generous to appeal to his right hon. Friend for mercy, and, when he gave it, to turn round on him in this manner and throw it back in his face.


was of opinion that it was very undesirable to misrepresent intentionally, or unintentionally, the motives which had actuated the House to ask for the withdrawal of the Motion. He took it that they were acting on very intelligible grounds. They did not think it was well to declare this man innocent, as if they had been a Court of Appeal, and they were substantially satisfied that justice would be met by a free pardon. He appealed to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who on every occasion when life, death, or liberty had been in issue had shown a most kindly and careful spirit to do this act as graciously as possible, and not to wound the feelings of an old man by saying he acted merely as a matter of compassion. The time was past when they could remit anything from this man's sentence, and what he wanted really was a reparation to his conscience, and that he hoped would be given as graciously as possible.


I hope this conversation, for it is really only a conversation, will not be prolonged, and especially that it will not become of an acrimonious character. I shall just make this remark. A Resolution of this House, and especially a Resolution implying an Address to the Crown, is always a matter of gravity; and it must be taken to express on the part of the House something which the House agrees to express, and that something must be indicated in the language of the Resolution, and not by what may be in the minds of hon. Members. Now, Sir, the first Resolution proposed was one which would have made an affirmation which my right hon. Friend, after giving careful consideration to the case, declared it was impossible for the House to accept. Under those circumstances, it lay with the House, if it chose, to persevere with that Resolution, and to put it to the test of a Division, in spite of the declaration of my right hon. Friend that he could not accept it. For whatever reason we need not now inquire, the hon. Baronet the Mover of the Resolution proposed to withdraw it, and the House unanimously agreed to its being withdrawn. Therefore, that has put an end to it. In place of it is substituted an Address, which my right hon. Friend is ready to concur in adopting. That Address is an Address praying the Crown to grant a free pardon to this person; and my right hon. Friend is perfectly prepared to be a party to the House passing that Address, and, no doubt, such an Address will receive proper consideration. I understand that, in the event of anything being done upon that Address in the nature of a free pardon, a free pardon will be granted, not accompanied by conditions such as appear to be contemplated or suggested by the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for Birmingham. [Mr. JOHN BRIGHT: No, no!] Well, then, I will say such as were protested against by the right hon. Gentleman opposite.


I was only hoping that it would be an exact description of the feeling of the House. I presume that the pardon will go in the ordinary form.


The pardon will go in the ordinary course, no doubt, and it will be one which I have little doubt will be in accordance with the feelings and wishes of the House. But I think we should be pursuing an entirely mistaken course, if we were to carry on a conversation which is very painful, on a matter which, I hope, has been closed by the statement of my right hon. Friend.

Question put, and negatived.

Words added.>

Main Question, as amended, put. Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty that She "will be graciously pleased to grant a free pardon to Edmund Galley. To be presented by Privy Councillors.