HL Deb 23 April 1868 vol 191 cc1108-10

said, that though their Lordships had come to a Resolution, requiring Notice to be given before Questions were asked, he nevertheless hoped that, inasmuch as he had no opportunity of placing on the Paper a Notice of a Question he desired to ask in reference to a matter of some importance, the House would permit him now to put the Question to the noble Duke at the head of the Colonial Department. Their Lordships were all aware that an exceptionally atrocious crime had recently been committed in Canada. Mr. D'Arcy M'Gee, a public man of great eminence in the colony, after leaving the Parliament House, had been most cruelly and foully assassinated in the streets of the capital of Canada, and while on the door-steps of his own house He deeply regretted the loss of Mr. D'Arcy M'Gee, not only on personal grounds, but because he thought that gentleman's services would — at the present moment especially — have been most valuable, in connection with the recent constitutional changes in Canada. Mr. D'Arcy M'Gee was the leader of the Irish Roman Catholic party in that colony, and on more than one occasion he had, by his remarkable character, and by the influence he exercised over his Irish fellow-subjects, rendered essential service to the Crown, to his adopted country of Canada, and also to his mother country, the connection with which he dearly prized. The loss of such a man was deeply to be regretted. It was said that he had fallen a victim to that dark conspiracy which embodied itself under the name of Fenianism. Not knowing how far that suspicion might be well founded, he (the Earl of Carnarvon) should be sorry to make the Fenian conspiracy responsible for another atrocious crime until its responsibility on that head was clearly and absolutely made out. For the present he would content himself with asking the noble Duke the Colonial Secretary, Whether he could give the House any information respecting this lamentable occurrence?


said, that it was unfortunately too true that Mr. D'Arcy M'Gee had fallen a victim to assassination on leaving the Parliament House at Ottawa. Little was known of the details beyond what had already appeared in the ordinary channels of information; but within the last twelve hours he had received from the Governor General Lord Monck, a despatch, a few passages from which would constitute the best Answer he could give to the Question addressed to him. The despatch was dated the 9th of April, 1868, and in it Lord Monck stated— I have the honour—with feelings of regret and horror, to announce to your Grace the assassination of the Hon. T. D'Arcy M'Gee, M.P., at about two o'clock on the morning of Tuesday, the 7th instant. Mr. M'Gee had left the House of Commons, which had just adjourned, and walked to his own residence, which was situated close by. It would appear that while stooping down to insert a latch key in the door of his house the assassin must have come behind him and put a pistol close to the back of his head, the bullet from which passed right through and out at his mouth, causing almost instantaneous death. The general impression, in which I concur, is that this atrocious crime has been the work of some member of the Fenian organization, prompted, most likely, by the eloquent and vigorous denunciations which Mr. M'Gee persistently launched against that conspiracy.…. The Government of the Dominion has offered a reward of 5,000 dollars; those of the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec 2,500 dollars each; and the cities of Montreal and Ottawa respectively 5,000 dollars and 4,000 dollars for the discovery of the perpetrator. The city of Montreal has decided that the funeral shall be a public one, conducted at the expense of the citizens; and it is the intention of my Ministers to recommend to Parliament that a provision shall be made out of the public purse for the widow and orphans of Mr. M'Gee. In a private note written on the same day, just as the mail was closing, Lord Monck stated— I think we have the perpetrator of the crime in custody, and as we have every reason to believe that several persons were privy to the act, I hope the large reward which has been offered will induce some of them to give evidence. He could add nothing to what had been stated by the noble Earl, in reference to the loss of Mr. D'Arcy M'Gee. He feared that Mr. M'Gee had fallen a victim to the principles that guided him, and he seemed to have risked his life for what he considered the good of his country. He believed that Mr. D'Arcy M'Gee was warned beforehand — and it seemed he was not the only one—of the fate which awaited him if he persisted in the course of loyalty and devotion which he was pursuing. Within an hour of the time of his death Mr. D'Arcy M'Gee, in the course of the discussion in the Parliament at Ottawa, used as almost his last words, "Base is he who would not risk his popularity in a good cause—that of his country." It was sad to reflect that he should have fallen a victim to an act as foul as ever was committed, for his main object had been to keep his fellow-countrymen in the path of duty, and to prevent their being led astray by designing men; and his loyalty and devotion to Canada and to the mother country were his only crimes.