HL Deb 04 August 1862 vol 168 c1187

rose to call attention to the Case of William Herdman, convicted at the County of Antrim Assizes at Belfast of the murder of his Cousin, John Herdman, and recommended to mercy by the jury on the alleged ground of insanity; and to inquire as to the course Her Majesty's Government will adopt. Petitions were being got up, asking the Government to spare the culprit's life on the ground that he was eccentric, subject to fits of passion, and apt to imagine that persons who had no evil intention towards him were disposed to injure him. He wished to know what steps the Government would take in the matter; for if they interfered with the course of the law on such a ground, there would be no security for life in Ireland.


said, the effect of the noble Viscount's question was to point out, that whatever might be the representations made to the Lord Lieutenant on behalf of the man in question on the ground of insanity, the convict ought nevertheless to be hanged. It was a most delicate matter for either House of Parliament to interfere in any matter connected with the administration of justice, and still more with regard to the exercise of the prerogative of mercy which belonged to the Crown. He thought it would be most improper of him to give any other answer to an inquiry, that ought not to have been made, than that in this case the usual course would be followed by the Government in respect of any representation which might be laid before them.