A Miscellany of Murder: Violent Death in 19th Century Wicklow

Wicklow Historical Society Journal 1994

By Ken Hannigan

Violent crime in Co. Wicklow was almost as rare during most of the nineteenth century as it is today. Extant constabulary returns made to Dublin Castle and now in the National Archives give a concise breakdown of all reported crime year by year and county by county from 1843, (1) the year which saw the last execution to take place in County Wicklow.

An Almost Spotless County Record

From the annual statistical returns it is possible to see that Wicklow consistently came very far down the national league in terms of crime. Although the sort of comprehensive detailed statistics reproduced in the table at the end of this article are not, available consistently for years earlier than 1843, it is possible, piecing together reports from police and magistrates, to gain a fairly full impression of what was happening in the county. From asearly as 1807 these reports were stating that Wicklow was perfectly peaceable, a slight exaggeration, perhaps, as bands of brigands were reported to be active in the early years of the century, especially in West Wicklow, robbing the houses of the wealthy or waylaying the occasional traveller. (2) Ribbonism (violent agrarian agitation undertaken by secret societies) which was a major concern elsewhere, affected the county, particularly the west of the county, in the early 1820s. However, the opposition of the Roman Catholic clergy, who were prepared to give information to the authorities, seems to have had a decisive in?uence in stemming its growth in Wicklow.(3)

Some years were of course worse than others and in the early decades a feeling of impending catastrophe prevailed in many quarters. Although the frightfulness of 1798 and its aftermath was relatively short-lived, it left its legacy of fear on both sides. Musgrave detailed 84 cases of loyalists being murdered in 1798.(4) On the other side the numbers murdered by loyalists is probably impossible to calculate. Communities of Protestants and Catholics were stillviewing each other with fear and suspicion in the 1820s and 1830s. There were periodic reports of members of one denomination gathering together to guard against imminent attack by the other. Such was the case in December 1824 when Protestants from Bray to Arklow were reported to be in a state of alarm, being apprehensive of some sudden attack. In February 1829 Catholics in Tinahely were reported to be sitting up every night expecting to be murdered by Protestants, while in 1832 Protestants around Tinahely locked themselves in the Market House due to fear of an imminent massacre.(5)

Though the fear may have been real enough, the records show that its cause was illusory. There were no massacres and few killings of any description. During the late 1830s and early 1840s the Assize Court Judges usually ended their addresses to the Grand Jury by congratulating them on the absence of serious crime in the county.(6) Those who petitioned for the reprieve of Edward Donegan, who was sentenced to death in 1859 for murdering his wife, stated that there had not been a conviction for murder in County Wicklow in the previous twelve years and that there had not been a public execution for sixteen years. The petitioners claimed that the county had long been distinguished for the peaceful and orderly conduct of its inhabitants.(7)

Domestic Violence 

Most violent deaths in the years covered by the reports below were the result of drunken affrays, petty jealousies, or domestic quarrels rather than the result of political, religious or social campaigns. One consistent social problem underlying the incidence of violent death throughout the century, however, appears in the figures for infanticide, a crime that was reported separately and recognised as meriting separate categorisation and treatment. This is apparent from the case of Elizabeth Davis detailed below by Joan Kavanagh. Wicklow’s rate of infanticide during part of this period seems to have been comparatively high. The five infanticides reported in the county in 1877, for instance, represented the highest number for any county in Ireland in that year. Significantly, however, of the three types of violent death listed in the statistics below, it is infanticide which shows the most marked decline over the period of study, disappearing completely from the figures for the final decade of the century. By then easier access to the cities and the establishment of homes for distressed women meant that births outside marriage were less likely to result in the death of the infant.

Murder and manslaughter were distinguished from each other in the statistics only from 1865. Prior to that both were returned under the common head of homicide. From. 1865 until the end of the century there were thirteen murders in the county. Only two of these were punished by the death sentence. In fact only four people were executed for crimes committed in Wicklow from 1831 to the end of the century. These were:

  • Edward Bowen, executed in Wicklow for the murder of his father, Thomas Bowen, in Killaderrig near Ashford in 1836
  • James Haskins, executed in Wicklow on 18 March 1843 for the murder of John Pew or Pugh in Rosnastraw (the last person to be executed in Wicklow)
  • James Tobin, executed in Wexford Gaol on 26 August 1884 for the murder of Eliza Moore in Rathdrum in 1884

and

  • Daniel Hanley, executed in Wexford Gaol in 1892 for the murder of Mary Anne Lyons in Barndarrig in 1890

The death penalty was abolished for twenty-one kinds of offences between 1818 and 1824. Prior to this its use even in Wicklow seems to have been quite extensive. Four men were reported as having been capitally convicted at Wicklow Assizes in 1816.(8) In the 1820s the death sentence was still imposed for many crimes other than murder. Two people were executed at Wicklow Assizes in 1826 for robbery.(9) In 1832 the death sentence was abolished for a wide range of offences including the stealing of horses, cattle and sheep, the larceny of £5 in a house, coining, and most kinds of forgery. In 1834 it was abolished for the offence of returning from transportation, in 1835 for letter stealing in the Post Office and for sacrilege, and in 1837 for all crimes except murder, high treason, rape, arson and a few others of rare occurrence.(10) At the Summer Assizes in Wicklow in 1838, for instance, a capital sentence passed for the crime of rape was commuted to transportation for life.(11) By the mid 1840s the death penalty tended to be reserved for the worst kinds of murder. One hundred and ninety seven executions were carried out in Ireland between 1831 and 1841, but whereas in the years 1831-37 the average number of executions each year was more than 24, in the years 183 8-41 the annual average had dropped to 6.(12)

 Summary details of Wicklow homicides 1810-99

Comprehensive crime statistics are not available in published form before the 1840s, and descriptive particulars of individual homicides were included in the published statistics only from 1859. The following account of homicides in Wicklow, compiled from the extant police and magistrates’ reports for the years from 1810 to 1899 falls into three chronological sections: 1810-58; 1859-83; and 1884-99; For the period from 1810 to 1858 the information presented here can in no sense be regarded as comprehensive (comprehensive statistics from 1843 without descriptive particulars are, however, contained in the table appended to this article). For the years 1859-1883 the annual published reports from which the extracts below have been taken do not indicate the precise location of crimes. From 1884 until 1899 precise details of location are available. Where possible, the locations of earlier homicides have been added to the extracts published here. For any researcher interested in the details of a particular case, however, the information presented here should be regarded as a starting point. In most cases more extensive research among the Constabulary Reports in the National Archives will yield more comprehensive details on particular crimes.

1. Reports of Wicklow homicides 1810-58

  • 1810, Peter Cassidy murdered at Hollywood. George Darker arrested for the crime 15 years later.(13)
  • 1814, Anne Leeson murdered at Kilballyowen by gang of intruders. (14)
  • 1817, Woman murdered at the Glen of the Downs. (15)
  • 1818, Tom Lewins of Kilmacoo murdered by his son Phil on the road between Kilmacoo and Redcross. Tom Lewins had been an informer to Capt. Tom King of Rathdrum and achieved posthumous notoriety in the writings of Luke Cullen. He was said to have apostatised from Catholicism to Protestantism. Phil Lewins was hanged in Wicklow for his father’s murder in 1818.(16)
  • 1821, Murder of man named Jackson (no further details).(17)
  • 1822, Man named Reilly murdered near Blessington.(18)
  • June 1824, Murder reported in Western division of Wicklow (no further details).(19)
  • December 1824, William Wallace murdered by George Hornidge in Burgage.(20)
  • 1826, One murder in March and one murder in July reported in Western division of Wicklow.(21)
  • August 1829, Murder in district of Rathdrum (no details).(22)
  • 23 September 1829, Edward Higginbottam late of the Militia staff of Co. Wicklow murdered Mary Doyle in Arklow by in?icting several wounds with a bayonet.(23)
  • 17 December 1830, Case of homicide in the district of Dunlavin.(24)
  • 19 December 1830, Homicide in the district of Tinahely (no other details).(25)
  • 11 March 1836, Thomas Bowen of Killaderrig, parish of Rathnew, murdered by his son Edward Bowen. Edward Bowen was executed for this crime in 1836.(26)
  • 18 June 1840, Ballygannon, Rathdrum, John Duffy and his wife and two sons were returning from the fair at Rathdrum when they were involved in an angry altercation with Michael Healy, Thomas Healy and John Tunney during which Michael Healy struck Duffy two blows on the head from which he died ten days later. Michael Healy was convicted of manslaughter at Wicklow Assizes on 10 July and sentenced to three months imprisonment. Thomas Healy, tried for aiding and assisting the former was acquitted. A bill of indictment against John Tunney was ignored by the Grand Jury.(27)
  • 29 January 1843, John Pugh of Rosnastraw, Tinahely murdered. Deceased had a sum of money in his house and robbery appears to have been the motive. James Haskins was executed in Wicklow for this crime on 18 March 1843.(28)
  • 22 December 1843, John Manly died as a result of injuries received in a riot which he was attempting to suppress on 11 November.(29)
  • 4 March 1845, Michael Healy killed by two blows in the neck. Offender surrendered. The deceased was accused by the offender of misrepresenting him to his employer.(30)
  • March 1848, Death of John Doyle as result of an affray at Tinahely. Eight people were lodged in Wicklow Gaol in connection with his death. These were John Butler, Thomas Butler, Garrett Byrne, Bridget Butler, Margaret Butler, Patrick Byrne, John Butler J nr., and Michael Butler, all from the Parish of Rathdrum. Most were convicted variously of manslaughter and riot and imprisoned for varying terms. (31)
  • April 1852, Man named Atkinson killed near Connary, by a neighbour, Patrick Hennessy, during a quarrel concerning a wall aound Atkinson’s garden. (32)
  • August 1854, Homicide in Enniskerry. Shoemaker attempted to stab his wife but her brother intervened and was killed. The perpetrator was arrested at Stepaside and lodged in Wicklow Gaol. (33)

 2. Summaries of Wicklow homicides 1859-1883 (34)

  • 1 March 1859, Parish of Kilranelagh, Elizabeth Donegan died from the effects of a beating she received from her husband, Edward Donegan. The victim was Donegan’s second wife and was considerably younger than he was. He was reported to be prone to fits of jealousy and this was thought to have been a motive for the attack. Donegan was found guilty of murder at the Summer Assizes in 1859 and was sentenced to be hanged. However, a petition was signed by many of the county’s clergy and gentry asking for mercy on the grounds of Donegan’s advanced age (he was thought to be between 60 and 70) and previous good character. The sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life.(35)
  • 8 November 1859, Michael Boland, farmer, was murdered at Muckla by three persons who were taken into custody. Boland was being put in possession of land the occupiers of which were reported to have committed the outrage.
  • 13 April 1860, John McKay, butcher, died from the effects of a blow on the head with a tongs in?icted by Thomas Nolan who was taken into custody. A dispute respecting politics was thought to be the cause of the affray.
  • 3 January 1861, Patrick Dempsey died from the effects of a blow he received on the head from William Sutton who was taken into custody. The cause of the attack was said to be a casual quarrel.
  • 12 February 1861, Catherine Cuthbert died from injuries received as a result of being run over in Wicklow by a mail car driven recklessly by Joseph Wright who was taken into custody.

 

The following report of the subsequent inquest appeared in the Wicklow News-letter on Saturday 16 February 1861:

An inquest was held on Thursday in the Courthouse by Matthew Hudson Jones, Esq. Coroner, and a respectable jury, with John Perrin Esq., as foreman, on the body of an old woman named Catherine Cuthbert who was run over by the mail car from Rathdrum on the 17th January while in the act of crossing over the street from Mr. Rooney’s to Mrs.Gregg’s.

It appeared from the evidence that on the day in question Mr. Comerford and another gentleman were on the car and the driver, a man named Joseph Wright, drove up to Mr. Thomas Merrigans for the purpose of letting the former gentleman down; Whilst Mr. Comerford was speaking to Merrigan some time was lost, and in order to pull it up, the driver went off at a rapid rate, about seven miles an hour, and in turning the corner at Mrs. Gregg’s from the direction of Church Street, this old woman was struck by the car, and knocked down. She took to her bed from that day and died a few days ago.

The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the foregoing facts; stating also that her death resulted from recklessness on the part of the driver, who was then committed for trial, at the next Assizes, on the Coroner’s warrant.(36)

At the Spring Assizes the bill against Wright was ignored. It would seem, however, that 1861 was not a lucky year for the mail coaches, as on 13th February, the day before the inquest on Catherine Cuthbert, the Constabulary reported an accident at Glenealy involving the night mail from Wexford to Dublin in which several passengers had been injured. The coachman was believed to have been drunk.(37)


 

  • 21 March 1861 Thomas Kavanagh died from congestion of the lungs, the result of injuries. Strong suspicion attached to William Doyle, alias the Dyer, who absconded. Drunkenness was believed to be the cause.
  • 7 December 1861, James Kinsella died from the effects of injuries inflicted on his head by James Byrne and his family who were taken into custody. A dispute respecting trespass of cattle was believed to have been the cause.
  • 7 April 1863, Daniel Voiles died from effusion of blood on the brain, the effects of a fall during a state of intoxication, and caused by a push given him by George Boulger who was arraigned at the Summer Assizes, when the bills were ignored.
  • 18 June 1863, William Hopkins, an infant, died from the effects of white lead being applied to a scald on his neck by his mother, Anne Hopkins, who acted from ignorance and who was arraigned at the Summer Assizes when the bill was ignored.
  • 8 August 1863, John Magee, labourer, was attacked when returning home in the evening by a party of men who beat him severely, causing his death shortly afterwards. The deceased had given no intentional provocation; but the accused (four of whom were taken into custody) were intoxicated. Two were committed for trial.
  • 19 April 1865. George Philips, labourer, died from the effects of a blow of a turnip he received on the head which caused concussion of the brain. Verdict was accordingly given that the turnip was thrown without malice. The accused was arraigned at the Summer Assizes, when the bill was ignored.
  • 20 July 1866. John Hayden, sailor, died from the effects of a blow or push given in self-defence by his brother, Joseph Hayden, who was arraigned at the Spring Assizes 1867 but not put on trial. A drunken quarrel was believed to have been the motive.
  • 16 September 1869. John Byrne was drinking on the night of 12 September in a public house with some others. He was afterwards found on the same night, lying on his face, near a well, by Bryan Kelly, who brought him home and put him to bed. It was ascertained that he had received a fracture of the skull, from the effects of which he died four days later. The cause of the attack was not ascertained. 
  • 2 June 1870. Hugh Murphy , small farmer, had a quarrel with his brother Denis on 26 May, when the latter struck him on the head with a stick from the effects of which he died on 2 June. Anger with his brother for disposing of some of the stock of a farm which deceased held and about which he (Denis) was jealous, being the senior, was supposed to have been the motive. The accused was tried at the Summer Assizes and though it was clearly proved that he had struck the deceased a severe blow on the head with a stick, causing the blood to ?ow, yet, as the deceased had told the doctor who attended him after the injury, probably to conceal the facts, that he received the injury by a fall over a ditch, the jury were induced to acquit the prisoner.
  • 7-17 March 1872. Edward Travers, small farmer, and Michael Connors had been drinking together in Carnew, and when returning home from the Tinahely races Travers was assaulted by Connors. Connors pulled Travers from the cart on which he sat and kicked him several times in the body, from the effects of which injuries he died. Revenge for the deceased having interfered with Connors when beating his wife some time previously was said to have been the motive. The accused was tried at the Summer Assizes, 1872, when the jury disagreed. He was then bailed for trial at the next Assizes.

[At the spring Assizes 1873 Michael Connors was tried a second time and was acquitted.]

  • 10-12 July 1873. John Roche, nailer, on the evening of 10 July had a dispute with Joshua Chase, who struck him with his fist, knocking him down, and his head coming in contact with a stone, his skull was fractured. Effusion on the brain supervened, and he lingered and died. Deceased was in the habit of provoking the accused by calling him improper names, and on the occasion of the assault he had irritated him in this manner. Accused has been sent for trial but admitted to bail.

[At the Spring Assizes 1874 Joshua Chase was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment with hard labour.]

  • 25 October 1873. Andrew Kavanagh, a farmer aged 30 years, was stabbed fatally with a pocket knife when returning from Tullow market at night. John Kelly was taken into custody for trial at the assizes. He and the deceased were reported to have had a dispute about some whiskey and were intoxicated.

[At the Spring Assizes 1874 John Kelly was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with hard labour.]

  • 10-14 May 1874. Hanna Cullen, servant, aged 21 years, was, it was believed, on the night of the 10th May induced by Cornelius Manifold, with whom she was keeping company, to swallow some liquid out of a bottle, from the effects of which it was thought she died three days afterwards. Deceased had some days previously at Manifold’s request, purchased poison for rats. Motive was thought to have been jealousy on the part of the accused, deceased having allowed another young man to pay attention to her. A true bill was found against Manifold at the Summer Assizes, but, at the request of the Crown, the trial was postponed until Spring Assizes, 1875.

[Cornelius Manifold was acquitted at the Spring Assizes 1875]

  • 2 June 1874. The skeleton of an unknown female was found on the above date, in a turf bank, in the townland of Brockagh, with part of an old sack covering the feet and a thin rope hanging from the neck by which strangulation had evidently been effected. The occurrence was believed to have taken place from three to ten years previously, and no female had been reported missing from the neighbourhood.
  • 24 March 1875. Thomas Mulligan, aged 46 years, was found dead on the public road at night, from injuries in?icted by Michael Kavanagh with his fist, abetted by Benjamin Henderson. All the parties had been drinking in a public house, where Henderson had wanted to fight the deceased, and both the accused appeared desirous to resent some previous quarrel. Kavanagh was sentenced to penal servitudefor life, and Henderson to penal servitude for five years.
  • 22 May 1876. William Anderson, aged 3 years, farmer’s son, was killed by a blow of a mangel wurzel across the stomach, in?icted by Patrick Doody, aged 10 years, who was bailed for trial at the Assizes, when the Crown entered a “nolle prosequi”.
  • 17-23 October 1876. Anne Kenney, a pauper in the workhouse, aged 5 years, died from the effects of a blow in?icted with a quart tin by her mother, Hannah Kenney, an inmate of the same institution. The motive was said to be sudden passion. Accused was committed for trial at next assizes.

[At the Spring Assizes, 1877, Hannah Kenney was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment with hard labour.]

  • 14 December 1876. Catherine Hara, caretaker of a farm belonging to Richard Gilbert, died from effects of injuries in?icted by [a lodger in the same house]. She had irritated the perpetrator by alluding to his probable dismissal from Gilbert’s service, when he knocked her down and stabbed her, causing immediate death. The accused was committed for trial at the Spring Assizes 1877 and found to be insane. He was ordered to be sent to a lunatic asylum.
  • 3 October 1882-19 January 1883, Michael Byrne, farmer, aged 55 years, died from the effects of injuries in?icted at about half-past one pm. He was engaged, along with a man named John Doyle, in making a hay-rick, when a farmer [named in the report], came up to them. After asking some rambling questions about the hay, [the farmer] suddenly attacked B yrne with a portion of the blade of a scythe which he carried. Byrne received a blow on the head which in?icted a large wound, and fractured his skull. He died on 19 January 1883. The offender was said to be of unsound mind. He was arrested and the magistrates committed him to a lunatic asylum as a dangerous lunatic.
  • 21-25 March 1883, a pauper, lunatic, aged seventy years, died from the effects of injuries in?icted by another lunatic, who was confined with her in the same cell and who suddenly struck her several times on the head with a bucket. [The accused] was tried at the Winter Assize, found to be of unsound mind and ordered to be kept in custody during the pleasure of His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant.

 3. Summaries of Wicklow Homicides 1884-99 (38)

  •  19 May 1884. Parish of Rathdrum, Eliza Moore, farmer’s wife aged 80 years was murdered immediately outside her own house at about 1.30 pm. on above date, her death being caused by fracture of the skull and severance of the jugular vein. There was no one in the house at the time and it was believed that the murderer must have been aware of the fact and committed the deed for the purpose of robbery. A tramp named James Tobin, who was found with a double-barrelled gun, stolen from Mrs. Moore’s house, in his possession, was arrested, tried at the Summer Assizes, and sentenced to be hanged, which sentence was carried into effect in Wexford on 26 August 1884. The inquest Jury which examined the body of Tobin in Wexford Gaol added a protest to their report objecting to the fact that someone convicted of a crime in Wicklow should have to be hanged in Wexford.(39)
  • 20-22 September 1888. Parish of Annacurra, James Graham, labourer, aged 81 years, died from the effects of injuries in?icted by his son, Garrett Graham. They had a dispute about a minor matter, and a struggle ensued, in the course of which the father fell on the ground and was kicked on the right side by his son. One of the ribs was fractured by the kick and lacerated the lung. The injury proved fatal two days later. Garrett Graham was arrested and tried at Maryborough Winter Assizes, 1888, when he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment with hard labour.
  • 26-29 June 1890. Parish of Delgany, Elizabeth Grundy, dressmaker, aged 34 years was fired at and wounded by a tramp painter and died from the effects on 29 June. It appears that the accused entered her shop and asked her to give him her photograph. Upon being refused, he drew a revolver and fired one shot, the bullet just grazing her chest. He then jumped over the counter, seized her, and fired another shot, which took effect in her abdomen. Miss Grundy and a sister, who had come to her assistance, then escaped to a neighbouring house. The accused followed, firing two shots after them and a third shot through the kitchen window of the house in which they had taken refuge. None of these shots took effect. The accused wished Miss Grundy to marry him and had on a previous occasion threatened to shoot her if she did not return hisaffection. He was arrested and returned for trial at the Summer Assizes 1890. At the request of the accused, the case was adjourned to Wicklow Winter Assizes, 1890, when a jury was empanelled to try the question of the prisoner’s sanity. He was found to be incapable of pleading, and was ordered to be confined in a lunatic asylum during the Lord Lieutenant’s pleasure.
  • 14 December 1890. Barndarrig, Parish of Dunganstown, Mary Anne Lyons, shopkeeper, aged 65 years was found murdered in her own house at about 9.00 am on 15 December. Death had resulted from a fracture of the skull, inflicted with some blunt instrument. The deceased was last seen alive between seven and eight o’clock on the previous evening, and the crime was believed to have been committed about 9.00 pm. The deceased, who was a widow, lived entirely alone, and was said to have been of very eccentric and retiring habits. It was reported that she had a considerable sum of money in the house [but at the trial it was revealed that she had given the bulk of this to the local schoolteacher for safekeeping]. The motive was evidently robbery. The house appeared to have been thoroughly searched by the perpetrator of the crime, but it could not be ascertained whether any money was taken. Two brothers, Daniel and James Handley, labourers on a neighbouring farm, were arrested and brought up for trial at Wicklow Spring Assizes, 1891 , but on the application of Counsel for the Crown the trial was postponed until the Summer Assizes. Daniel and James Handley were convicted at Wicklow Spring Assizes, 1892, and sentenced to death. In the case of James Handley, who was only 15 at the time of the murder, the sentence was subsequently commuted to penal servitude for ?fteen years. Daniel Handley was executed in Wexford Prison on 19 April 1892.
  • 5 or 6 October 1891. Parish of Kilcoole, Village of Kilcoole, Mary Scallan, aged forty-five years, wife of a shopkeeper, was found dead in her bedroom. on 6 October, 1891. On examination it was discovered that she had received four wounds on the head and other injuries about the body. Death had been caused by concussion of the brain, the result of the injuries to the head. It was believed that the deceased was killed during the previous night by her husband, James Scallan. The weapon used appeared to have been a poker. The only motive assigned was a domestic quarrel, the result of drink. The accused was arrested and tried at Carlow Winter Assizes, 1891, when he was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to eighteen years’ penal servitude.
  • 15 May 1893. Parish of Kiltegan, Margaret Conran, farmer’ s wife, aged 68 years, and Mary Farrell, her servant, aged 56 years, were shot dead'in the house of the former during the night of 15 May. The murder took place in the bedroom occupied by Mary Farrell, who had been in bad health for some time previously, and at the time of the occurrence Mrs. Conran seems to have been in the act of supplying her with some nourishment while she lay in bed. Mrs. Conran was shot in the back of the head, and Mary Farrell in the right side of the face and neck, the charge used consisting of pellets. Death in both cases appears to have been instantaneous. The only other person in the house at the time was John Conran, aged about 75 years, husband of Margaret Conran. He alleged that the shots were fired by a man with a blackened face, who entered the house about half-past two o’clock am. It was believed, however, that John Conran himself committed the crime, which appeared to have been the result of a series of domestic quarrels between the husband and wife, regarding the disposal of their property. John Conran was arrested and tried at Wicklow Winter Assizes, 1893, when he was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. The sentence was subsequently commuted to penal servitude for life.
  • 15-24 June 1895. Parish of Kilpoole, Mary Patchell, labourer’s wife, aged 30 years, was assaulted about 10.45 pm on 15 June by Bridget Hyland who came to her door and used offensive language towards her. Mrs. Patchell, who was in bed at the time, went out in the street in her nightdress, when accused struck her on the bridge of the nose with a stone, dragged her to the ground, and struck her face against the street, cutting her upper lip. Mrs. Patchell attended to her ordinary business as a fruit seller until 22 June, when she became ill, and on 24 June died from tetanus, which, it is believed, resulted from the cuts she received. The assault was the result of an ordinary brawl between these two women, both of whom were of intemperate habits. Bridget Hyland was tried at Wicklow Summer Assizes, 1895, and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment with hard labour.
  • 15 August 1896, Parish of Delgany, Winifred Gorman, labourer’s wife, aged 58 years, was shot dead by James Sweeney, about 10 o’clock pm in the house of the latter. Deceased had entered the house, and made some observations about a tri?ing dispute which had occurred a few days previously with reference to dogs chasing fowl. Sweeney thereupon took up a gun and fired, killing Mrs. Gorman instantaneously. A portion of the head of deceased was blown away by the shot. With the exception of the petty dispute above referred to, deceased and accused had always been on good terms, and the crime appears to have been committed in a sudden outburst of temper. James Sweeney, bricklayer, surrendered to the police, and was tried at Waterford Winter Assizes, 1896, when he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to ten years’ penal servitude.
  • 17 November 1896, Parish of Blessington, Anne Neale, caretaker, aged 76 years, was found murdered in her cottage on the morning of 18 November. The body was lying in a pool of blood on the floor of the bedroom, near the door leading to the kitchen. The head was almost severed from the body, and the clothes were torn and showed plainly that they had been roughly searched. The crime appears to have been committed between 7 and 8 o’ clock on the previous night, and the weapon used was believed to have been a razor which was found about 150 yards from the scene. The murderer effected an entrance into the house by forcing in the window of the bedroom. The deceased was supposed to have money and the motive for the crime was evidently robbery. A tramp labourer who had worked for the deceased and her brother a few weeks previously, was arrested and tried at Wicklow Spring Assizes, 1897, when the jury disagreed. The case was the adjourned to the Summer Assizes. The accused was tried at Wicklow Summer Assizes, 1897, and the jury disagreed. He was tried again at Waterford Winter Assizes, 1897, with the same result, and the case was not further proceeded with.

Ken Hannigan

Table 1: Homicide and infanticide in Wicklow 1843-99 with comparative ?gures for Ireland as a whole.

Source: National Archives, Irish Crimes Records (CSO ICR 1-4) and RIC Annual and Monthly printed outrage reports 1892-1913. 9x57

Year

*Murders

(Wicklow)

*Murders

(Ireland)

*Manslaughters

(Wicklow)

*Manslaughters

(Ireland)

Total No. of homicides (Wicklow)

Total No. of homicides

(Ireland)

Infanticides

(Wicklow)

Infanticides

(Ireland)

1843

 

 

 

 

2

122

4

138

1844

 

 

 

 

0

146

1

135

1845

 

 

 

 

1

137

6

107

1846

 

 

 

 

1

170

3

100

1847

 

 

 

 

0

212

2

131

1848

 

 

 

 

3

171

3

107

1849

 

 

 

 

3

203

3

120

1850

 

 

 

 

2

139

1

101

1851

 

 

 

 

2

157

2

136

1852

 

 

 

 

1

140

3

121

1853

 

 

 

 

0

119

8

138

1854

 

 

 

 

2

106

4

110

1855

 

 

 

 

0

101

1

106

1856

 

 

 

 

1

126

4

119

1857

 

 

 

 

1

111

2

116

1858

 

 

 

 

0

103

0

86

1859

 

 

 

 

2

88

1

55

1860

 

 

 

 

1

88

2

90

1861

 

 

 

 

4

91

1

84

1862

 

 

 

 

0

80

3

58

1863

 

 

 

 

3

76

1

44

1864

 

 

 

 

0

69

0

50

1865

1

39

0

21

1

60

3

58

1866

0

27

1

24

1

51

1

55

1867

0

18

0

43

0

61

2

56

1868

0

19

0

60

0

79

1

48

1869

0

29

1

48

1

77

1

44

1870

0

26

0

51

0

77

0

49

1871

0

19

0

52

0

71

0

44

1872

0

22

1

65

1

87

0

42

1873

0

18

2

63

2

81

1

47

1874

2

33

0

51

2

84

3

52

1875

1

38

0

73

1

111

1

40

1876

1

19

2

60

3

79

1

28

1877

0

24

0

63

0

87

5

41

1878

0

24

0

52

0

76

1

34

1879

0

24

0

40

0

64

2

45

1880

0

27

0

44

0

71

0

38

1881

0

36

0

59

0

95

1

39

1882

0

43

0

43

0

86

1

31

1883

1

18

1

38

2

56

2

37

1884

1

21

0

50

1

71

2

27

1885

0

19

0

46

0

65

2

26

1886

0

31

0

43

0

74

0

31

1887

0

19

0

44

0

63

0

29

1888

0

27

1

28

1

55

0

31

1889

0

24

0

35

0

59

0

26

1890

2

16

0

40

2

56

0

24

1891

1

20

0

41

1

61

0

20

1892

0

25

0

45

0

70

0

14

1893

2

16

0

33

2

49

0

16

1894

0

13

0

47

0

60

0

12

1895

0

8

1

44

1

52

0

1

1896

1

14

1

32

2

46

0

11

1897

0

12

0

34

0

46

0

14

1898

0

14

0

35

0

49

0

14

1899

0

5

0

44

0

49

0

13

*Note: murder and manslaughter were not differentiated in the annual statisics until 1865. Before this are reported under the head of homicide.

Footnotes

1. National Archives, Irish Crimes Records 1848-93 (CSO ICR 1-4 Returns of Outrages, 1848-93), and Police and Crime Records, (RIC annual and monthly printed outrage Reports 1892-1913).

2. National Archives State of the Country Papers (hereafter NAI SOC).

3. NAI SOC 2374/11, 2374/18, 2374/34, 2509/37. .

4. Sir Richard Musgrave, A history of the Different Rebellions in Ireland, pp 312-315.

5. NAI SOC 2509/35, 2612/16, Wicklow Historical Journal, No. 3, P. 54

6. Wicklow County Library, micro?lmed extracts from Freeman’s Journal, 12 July 1838, 5 July 1839. I am greatly indebted to Joan Kavanagh of the County Wicklow Heritage Project for giving me these references.

7. NAI Convict Reference File CRF 1859 D17.

8. NAI SOC 1762/39.

9. NAI SOC 2831/52.

10. Parliamelum Gazetteer of Ireland, 1844, CXL

11. NAI Outrage Reports (hereafter NAI OR) 1839/32/1256.

12. Census of Ireland 1841, Table of Deaths and Surgeon Wilde’ s Report, pp XLII, XLLIII, and county tables. '

13. NAI SOC 2722/25.

14. NAI SOC 1561/41 and 42.

15. NAI SOC 2374/23.

16. C. Dickson, The Life of Michaol Dwyer, Dublin, 1944, p199; Luke Cullen, ’98 in Wicklow. Edited by Myles Ronan, Dublin, 1938, p. 27, pp 40-44; Account of trial at Wicklow Assizes, Freeman's Journal, 28 July 1818 (I am grateful to Joan Kavanagh for this reference).

17. NAI SOC 2509/31 and 2374/23.

18. NAI SOC 2374/7.

19. NAI SOC 2617/13.

20. NAI SOC 2617/17.

21. NAI SOC 2765/40 and 2765/42.

22. NAI Retums to the CSO from Constabulary, Monthly Statements of Outrages, 1829.

23. ibid.

24. ibid 1830.

25. ibid 1830.

26. NAI OR 1836/32/26.

27. NAI OR 1840/32/12850.

28. NAI Returns to CSO from Constabulary, monthly statements of Outrages, 1843, NAI Diary of Stipendiary Magistrate for Co. Wicklow 1838-43.

29. Returns from CSO from Constabulary, Monthly Statements of Outrages, 1843.

30. ibid 1845

31. Freeman’s Journal (Wicklow County Library microfilm extracts) 30 March 1848 and 14 April 1848, and Register of Wicklow Gaol 1848 (NAI Prison Registers 41/2).

32. Freeman’s Journal (Microfilm extracts), 13 April 1852.

33. ibid, 28 August 1854.

34. Unless otherwise footnoted, the source for each of these reports is the return of outrages for the relevant year in NAI, Irish Crimes Records, Returns of Outrages 1848-93.

35. NA Convict Reference File CRF 1859 D17.

36. I am very grateful to Jimmy Cleary for this transcript.

37. NAI Wicklow Constabulary Book, 13 February 1861.

38. Unless otherwise footnoted, the sources for these reports are the annual returns of outrages in NAI, Irish Crimes Records 1848-93, and NAI, RIC Annual and Monthly printed Outrage Reports 1892-1913, for the appropriate dates.

39. NAI, Convict Reference File, CRF 1884/T 16.

Photo:Regatta Day Wicklow circa 1952

Regatta Day Wicklow circa 1952

This page was added by Student Heritage on 21/02/2020.