Ireland Old News

The Times
London, Middlesex, England

September 10, 1845




The town of Killesandra, in the county of CAVAN, has become the focus of fresh disturbances, originating out of circumstances almost without parallel, even in Ireland. In order to render intelligible the subjoined correspondence from the scene of threatened action, as it appears in the Evening Mail, it will be necessary to prefix the following explanatory statement of that journal:--

Extensive military preparations have been going on in Cavan, and a large military force has been collected at Killesandra within the last three days, in consequence of informations forwarded to the Government of proceedings which menaced an extensive and formidable breach of the peace. It was known that the Roman Catholic peasantry of the county, under the sobriquet of Teetotallers, intended to muster in monster numbers at Killesandra on Monday, the 8th inst. (this day), with the ostensible view of presenting an address to Mr. R. H. SOUTHWELL, the late proprietor of Castle Hamilton, an estate adjoining that town; and that the Protestant yeomen farmers, fearing some hidden danger from so vast an uncalled-for an assemblage, had determined to collect at the same place in counteracting numbers, and self-defensive force. It was hardly possible that two such assemblies could have met on common ground in this county, under the afflicting circumstances which have set the parties at mutual distrust, without coming to a deadly conflict; and the consequence was the application to Government, and the strong military precautions which have been taken. To make this strange excitement rightly understood it will be necessary to state a few particulars relative to its origin. It appears, then, that in consequence of the pecuniary embarrassment of Mr. SOUTHWELL it became necessary to sell his estates, or part thereof, for the payment of his creditors, and that Castle Hamilton, the demesne and residence of the proprietor, was, under a decree of the Court of Chancery, set up to auction, and purchased by Mr. James HAMILTON, a respectable and wealthy merchant in this city, for the sum of 55,000 l. It also appears, that after the sale had been effected, it occurred to some of the friends of Mr. SOUTHWELL (who had been a frequent candidate for the county on the Liberal side), as well as to some of his family, that a sufficient sum to re-purchase the estate from Mr. HAMILTON could be raised by public subscription; and that with a view to dispose the purchaser more willingly to relinquish his rights, threatening notices and rumours jof danger were served, or set afoot by other parties. With the latter part of this project none of the respectable family, whose misfortunes are to be deplored, could have any connexion; nor is it clear how far Mr. SOUTHWELL himself was at first cognizant of the design to restore him to his property by means of the subscription; but it is quite certain that the Roman Catholic clergy of the county, including the titular, had undertaken to forward the design, and that Mrs. SOUTHWELL had held communications with them on the subject. This was very natural and very praiseworthy on the part of an attached wife; and it may be added, without detracting from the spirit by which she was actuated, that (in the words of Mr. SOUTHWELL to Dr. MARTIN, in a correspondence printed and privately circulated between these gentlemen), "Mrs. SOUTHWELL, having discovered the very great excitement which prevailed, expressed (in common with almost every human being in this vicinity) her apprehension that Mr. HAMILTON, a stranger, wholly unknown, would be neither safe not comfortable in coming to this country at a moment when some of its most respected and long resident gentry, acting under the advice of prudent friends, had felt it necessary to absent themselves. She did more–she wrote to Mr. DICKSON communicating her fears." The following is an extract of her letter, as printed in the same correspondence:--

"The people were also deluded with the promise, and would not believe it was really sold till my arrival. When I announced it to them nothing could surpass their grief and consternation, and indeed just anger, at our being so betrayed. They then fixed on a plan to raise by subscriptions amongst themselves, the tenants, townspeople, and dependents of Mr. SOUTHWELL, which idea has been seized with enthusiasm by the people of the county at large; and they deputed Major FARIS [?] yesterday to write to Mr. HAMILTON, and request him, upon being paid his purchase-money, costs, and expenses, that he would restore this place to Mr. SOUTHWELL. You know the Irish character too well to make it necessary for me to tell you that Mr. HAMILTON would not be likely to have a peaceable, quiet life here, if he came against the will of the people, or the system of annoyance he would have to endure. The agrarian spirit is now stronger than ever among the people, and every one who takes land from another must prepare to undergo every sort of annoyance and alarms. The names are here given of different families who have been obliged to fly the country in order to save their lives; after which the letter thus proceeds:] I do assure you, from the spirit I see and hear with the people, and their strong attachment to Mr. SOUTHWELL, and the conviction they feel that his return alone could restore peace and satisfaction to this distracted county, so strongly proved by their having got so large a sum to bring him back, as they say, and the full belief they have that Mr. HAMILTON could not refuse them, that I am convinced if he refuses this act of justice and generosity neither he nor his family would ever enjoy a moment's peace or comfort. He would have a thousand annoyances, and perhaps worse; so, knowing your influence with him, I take the liberty of thus stating my feelings on the subject, leaving it to your own good sense and judgment how to advise him on this occasion.

"I remain your obedient,
"Castle Hamilton, July 12."

Matters were in this position when a notice from the Teetotallers of Killesandra, calling on their brethren at large throughout the county to meet them on a certain day at Killesandra, appeared, with the professed object of addressing Mr. SOUTHWELL, and possibly of promoting the subscription on his behalf. The alarm spread among the Protestant population that those persons had ulterior objects in their view; and, recollecting the formidable occupation of the town which had taken place by night but a few weeks since, and the dangers to which the loyal and peaceful inhabitants were exposed, the Protestant yeomen tenantry of the county came to the resolution of being at least prepared for any emergency by meeting at the same place, and on the same occasion, in self-protective numbers. The letter of our CAVAN correspondent will explain the rest:--

"Cavan, Sept 7.

"For the last two days our town has been the scene of unusual excitement, large bodies of military having arrived here on their route to Killesandra. Yesterday two troops of the 2d Regiment of Royal North British Dragoons marched in from Carrickmacross, a distance, I think, of 28 miles. As there is not sufficient accommodation here for so many men and horses, a party of them were detached to Stradone. One troop went forward to Killesandra to-day, as also did a company of the 5th Fusileers, at present stationed in Cavan, under the command of Captain WOODWARD. Four companies of the 34th Regiment are also marching to the same place. They left Athlone on Friday morning at two hours' notice, and three companies of them arrived in Cavan at 2 o'clock to-day. The other company halted at Ballynagh, a village about four miles hence. Two troops of the 2d Dragoon Guards are to be here to-day, and will proceed to the scene of action (Killesandra) to-morrow morning. The 34th are under orders to march from Cavan at 3 o'clock in the morning; so that by 8 o'clock to-morrow morning there will be a small army prepared for action in the town of Killesandra. The numbers, as near as I can learn, stand thus;

2d Dragoon Guards 120
2d Royal North British (Scots Grays) 120
5th (Northumberland Fusileers) 180
34th Regiment (Cumberland) 450
Of the police force from counties of
Leitrim, Longford, and Cavan 90

Making a total of 960 men and officers.

"(A correspondent at Enniskillen informs us that the whole of the disposable force in that garrison was under orders to march to the same point, and has already left their quarters when his letter was sent to post. )

"The cause of all this marching and counter-marching (continues our CAVAN correspondent) will be best explained by a perusal of the several documents which I forward. On the evening of the 27th of August the notice of which the following is a copy was widely circulated throughout this and the neighbouring counties, by posting it in the various towns and villages, and also through the post-office:--

No. I.

"The Total Abstinence Society of Killesandra wish to present an address to H. Henry SOUTHWELL, Esq., at Castle Hamilton, on Monday, the 8th of September next. The society have pledged themselves to preserve the strictest order and regularity, and to come without banners or colours, or arms of any sort or kind. They invite all the members of the Total Abstinence Society who are well-wishers of Mr. SOUTHWELL, to all the neighbouring parishes and counties, to attend, and to be at Killesandra, at noon, in order to be home before dark.

" ‘August 27.'

"This notice created no small stir, not only amongst the members of the ‘Total Abstinence Society,' but also amongst the loyal Protestants of the county of Cavan, as will appear from the notice which follows:--

No. II.

"Notice.–We, the loyal Protestants of the county of Cavan, have resolved, since our brethren have been assassinated, some fire on, and other outrages of different kinds have been committed in several localities of this once peaceable county, to the terror of the loyal and well-disposed of Her Majesty's subjects; and seeing by a Jesuitical placard that it is the intention of those whom we believe to be our adversaries to walk and hold a meeting in Killesandra on Monday next, the 8th inst., being the anniversary of the battle of Ballinamuck, under the pretence of addressing Robert Henry SOUTHWELL, Esq., but really for ulterior objects–namely, the dismemberment of the empire and the downfall of Protestantism,–that we, the loyal Protestants, will assemble and hold a meeting in Killesandra on Monday, September 8, at 10 o'clock a.m., to move an address to the Government respecting the recent dismissal of some exemplary magistrates, whose conduct cannot be compared with that of the gentlemen who were dismissed their situations as magistrates for attending the O'Connell muster [?] meetings heretofore.

" ‘And that we hereby invite the attendance and co-operation of our Protestant friends of the neighbouring counties.

"God save the Queen and No Surrender."

"In this document you will observe it stated that the meeting convened by the members of the Total Abstinence Society, though convened ‘under the pretence of addressing Robert Henry SOUTHWELL, Esq.,' was really meant, ‘for ulterior objects.' There appears to be some grounds for this belief, for most of our public places here have had an ‘Address to Mr. SOUTHWELL' posted on them for several days back, with Mr. SOUTHWELL's answer to it. It does not appear on what day it was presented; but the answer from Mr. SOUTHWELL is dated Castle Hamilton, August 22, 1845, five days prior to the publication of notice No. I.

"The authorities here became greatly alarmed lest the persons composing those two adverse meetings should come into collision, in which case, there cannot be a doubt but a breach of the peace would ensue, and this in all probability would be followed by loss of life to no small extent. Informations on oath were forwarded to Government, in which it was most strongly stated that such an event would take place, if prompt and vigorous measures were not adopted to prevent those meetings from being held.

"Lord FARNHAM, who fortunately is at present at Farnham, has been most active in his endeavours to preserve the peace of the country. On learning the state of excitement that prevailed, not only in Killesandra, but throughout the county of , and the portions of other counties adjoining it, connected with those intended meetings, he caused the notice of which the following is a copy to be printed and very widely circulated:--

No. III.

" ‘Whereas, public placards have been issued requiring the attendance of large bodies of Her Majesty's subjects in the town of Killesandra on the 8th instant–notice is hereby given, that all persons appearing with arms on that occasion will be punished as the law directs; such appearing in arms being in direct opposition to the law, and rendering to endanger the public peace.

"FARNHAM, D. L. county Cavan.
"John B. GRAVES, B. M. [or R. M. or E. M.?]

"Sept. 4.'

"That the Irish Executive have been considerably alarmed by the informations they have received on this subject, would appear from the fact that Major-General Sir G. H. F. BERKLEY, K.C.B., was instructed to proceed forthwith to CAVAN, and make such arrangements as he and the local authorities should determine upon for the preservation of the peace. He arrived on Friday evening, and during the entire of yesterday and this day has been busily engaged in taking his measures. On Friday, the 5th of September, there was a meeting of magistrates held in the county town, and, amongst other things determined on by them, they published the following notice:--

No. IV.

" ‘Notice.–Whereas, notice has been given of a meeting of the Total Abstinence Society of Killesandra, to be held on Monday, the 8th of September instant, at Killesandra, at 12 o'clock at noon, at which persons being members of the Total Abstinence Society from the neighbouring parishes and counties are invited to attend:

" ‘And whereas, we have received information upon oath, that if said meetings should be held, it is apprehended a c__sion will take place between the two parties, and that the public peace will be thereby seriously endangered:

" ‘Now, we do hereby caution all persons, that they do abstain from attendance at the said meetings, or either of them, and if, in defiance of this our caution, the said meetings shall take place, all persons attending the same shall be proceeded against according to law.

" ‘John GODLEY, J.P.
" ‘Henry T. [KILLESH?], J.P.
" ‘Somerset [K.?] MAXWELL, D.L., J.P.
" ‘John B. GRAVES, R.M.

" ‘Cavan, Sept. 5.'

"By 8 o'clock to-morrow morning there will be in the town of Killesandra a body of military and police amounting to about 1,000 men. However, there is every reason to think that their presence there will be quite unnecessary, for it appears that the Protestants, ever loyal and obedient to the laws, will not hold their intended meeting on Monday, as will be seen by the resolution, extensively placarded, which I subjoin.

No. V.

" ‘ At a meeting of the loyal Protestants of the county of CAVAN the following resolution was unanimously passed:--
" ‘ Resolved,–That in obedience to the proclamation of the magistrates, no meeting or assembly whatever will take place in Killesandra on Monday, the 8th inst.
" ‘ Sept. 6.
" ‘ James GIBSON, Chairman.' "

Submitted by: County Cavan Newspaper Transcription Project

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