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well known, that several protestant gentlenien and magistrates of considerable influence in that province, did all along, for their own private ends connive at, if not foment these tumults, and although we were assured by authority, “ that the authors of these riots consisted indiscriminately of persons of different persuasions, and that no marks of disaffection to his majesty's person or government appeared in any
of these people. This authentic declaration was grounded on the report which had been made to government, by persons Vol. II. T
2 Dublin Gazette.
boys, peep-of-day-boys, &c. But these various insurgents are not to be confounded, for they are very different. The proper distinction in the discontents of the people is into protestant and catholic. All but the white-boys were among the manufacturing protestants in the north. The white-boys catholic labourers in the south : from the best intelligence I could gain, the riots of the manufacturers had no other foundation, but such variations in the manufacture as all fabrics experience, and which they had themselves known and submitted to before. The case, however, was different with the white-boys; who being labouring catholics met with all those oppressions I have described, and would probably have continued in full submission had not very severe treatment in respect of tithes united with a great speculative rise of rents about the same time, blown up the name of resistance; the atrocious acts they were guilty of made them the object of general indignation : acts were passed for their punishment, which seemed calculated for the meridian of Barbary; this arose to such a height, that by one they were to be hanged under circumstances without the common formalities of a trial, which though repealed the following sessions marks the spirit of punishment; while others remain yet the law of the land, that would if executed tend more to raise than quell an insurrection. From all which it is manifest that the gentlemen of Ireland never thought of a radical cure from overlooking the real cause of disease, which in fact lay in themselves, and not in the wretches they doomed to the gallows. Let them change their own conduct intirely, and the poor will not long riot. Treat them like men who ought to be as free as yourselves: put an end to that system of religious persecution which for seventy years has divided the kingdom against itself; in these two circumstances lies the cure of insurrection, perform them completely, and you will have an affectionate poor, instead of oppressed and discontented vassals.” Young's Tour, vol. ii. p. 41-42.
of distinguished loyalty and eminence in the law, sent down and commissioned fome time before to enquire upon the spot into the real causes and circumstances of these riots; which report was afterwards confirmed by the going judges of assize, and by the dying protestations of the first five of these unhappy men, who were executed in 1762 at Waterford, for having been present at the burning down of a cabin, upon the information of one of their associates, who was the very person that with his own hand set fire to it. These men immediately before their execution, publicly declared and took God to witness, “ that in all these tumults it never did enter into their thoughts to do any thing against the king or government.”
The same subject continued. BUT
UT the person most obnoxious on this occasion, and whose life seems to have been most eagerly sought after, on a real or affected belief of his having primarily stirred up, and with French money and officers, supported these rioters, for the purpose of a future rebellion, was one Nicholas Sheehy, parish-priest of Clogheen. This man was giddy and officious, but not ill-meaning, with somewhat of a Quixotish cast of mind towards relieving all those within his district, whom he fancied to be ina jured or oppressed; and, setting aside his unavoidable connexion with those rioters, several hundred of whom were his parishioners, he was a clergyman of an unimpeached character in all other respects. In the course of these disturbances, he had been often indicted, and tried as a popish priest, but no sufficient evidence having appeared against him on that charge, he was always acquitted, to his own great misfortune; for, had he been convicted, his punishment, which would be only transportation, might have prevented his ignominious death, which soon after followed.
? CATHOLICS OF IRELAND. 275 In the year 1765, the government was prevailed upon by his powerful enemies, to issue a proclamation against him, as a person guilty of high treafon, offering a reward of three hundred pounds for taking him, which Sheehy in his retreat happening to hear of, 'imwas not conscious of any such crime, as he was charged with in the proclamation, he was ready to save to the government the money offered for taking him, by surrendering himself out of hand, to be tried for that or any other crime he might be accused of; not at Clonmell, where he feared that the power and malice of his enemies were too prevalent for justice (as they soon after indeed proved to be), but at the court of king's bench in Dublin. His proposal having been accepted, he was accorda ingly brought up to Dublin and tried there for rebellion, of which, however, after a severe scrutiny of fourteen hours, he was honourably acquitted ; no evidence having appeared against him but a blackguard boy, a common prostitute, and an impeached thief, all brought out of Clonmell jail, and bribed for the purpose of witnesling against him.
But his inveterate enemies, who like so many bloodhounds had pursued him to Dublin, finding themselves disappointed there, 'resolved upon his destruction at all
One Bridge, an infamous informer against some of those who had been executed for these riots, was said to have been murdered by their affociates, in revenge (although his body could never be found), and a confiderable reward was offered for discovering and convicting the murderer. Sheehy, immediately after his acquittal in Dublin for rebellion, was indicted by his pursuers for this murder, and notwithstanding the promise given him by those in office on surrendering him. self, he was transmitted to Clonmell, to be tried there for this new crime, and, upon the fole evidence of the
a It was positively sworn, by two unexceptionable witnesses, that he privately left the kingdom some short time before he was said to have been murdered. See notes of the trial taken by one of the jury, in Exshaw's Magazine for June 1766.
same infamous witnesses, whose testimony had been so justly reprobated in Dublin, was there condemned to be hanged and quartered for that murder.
What barefaced injustice and inhumanity were shewn to this unfortunate man on that occasion, is known and testified by many thousands of creditable persons, who were present and eye-witnesses on the day of his trial. A party of horse furrounded the court, admitting and excluding whomsoever they thought proper, while others of them, with a certain knight at their head, scampered the streets in a formidable manner, forcing into inns and private lodgings in the town, challenging and questioning all new comers, menacing his friends, and encouraging his enemies : even after fentence of death was pronounced against him (which one would think might have satisfied the malice of his enemies), his attorney found it necessary for his fafety, to steal out of the
• I shall mention only one instance out of many.
During his trial, Mr. Keating, a person of known property and credit in that country, having given the clearest and fullest evidence, that, during the whole night of the supposed murder of Bridge, the prisoner, Nicholas Sheehy, had lain in his house, that he could not have left it in the night time without his knowledge, and consequently that he could not have been even present at the murder. The Reverend Mr. active
in these trials, stood up, and after looking on a paper that he held in his hand, informed the court, that he had Mr. Keating's name on his list as one of those that were concerned in the killing of a corporal and serjeant, in a former rescue of some of these levellers. Upon which he was immediately hurried away to Kilkenny jail, where he lay for some time, loaded with irons, in a dark and loathsome dungeon: by this proceeding, not only his evidence was rendered useless to Sheehy, but also that of many others was prevented, who came on purpose to testify the same thing, but instantly withdrew themselves, for fear of meeting with the same treatment. Mr. Keating was afterwards tried for this pretended murder at the aflizes of Kilkenny, but was honourably acquitted ; too late, however, to be of any service to poor Sheehy, who was hanged and quartered some time before Mr. Keating's acquittal.” The very fame evidence which was looked upon at Clonmell as good and sufficient to condemn Mr. Sheehy, having been afterwards rejected at Kilkenny, as prevaricating and contradictory with respect to Mr. Keating.
town by night, and with all poslible speed make his efcape to Dublin.
The night before his execution, which was but the second after his sentence, he wrote a letter to Major Sirr, wherein he declared his innocence of the crime for which he was next day to suffer death ; and on the morning of that day, just before he was brought forth to execution, he, in the presence of the sub-lheriff and a clergyman who attended him, again declared his innocence of the murder ; folemnly protesting at the same time, as he was a dying man, just going to appear before the most awful of tribunals, that he never had engaged any of the rioters in the service of the French king, by tendering them oaths, or otherwise ; that he never had distributed money among them on that account, nor had ever received money from France, or any other foreign court, either dire&tly or indirectly, for any such purpose ; that he never knew of any French or other foreign officers being among these rioters; or of any Roman catholics of property or note, being concerned with them. At the place of execution he folemnly averred the same things, adding, “ that he never heard an oath of allegiance to any foreign prince proposed or administered in his life-time; nor ever knew, any thing of the murder of Bridge, until he heard it publicly talked of; nor did he know that there ever was any such design on foot.”
Every body knew, that this clergyman might, if he pleased, have easily made his escape to France, when he first heard of the proclamation for apprehending him : and as he was all along accused of having been agent for the French king, in raising and fomenting these tumults, he could not doubt of finding a safe retreat, and suitable recompence for such services, in any part of his dominions. It seems, therefore, absurd in the highest degree, to imagine that he, or any man, being at the same time conscious of the complicated guilt of rebellion and murder, would have wilfully neglected the double opportunity of escaping the punishment due to such crimes, and of living at