The Sharp Family — Reports from the
Chief Secretary's Registered Papers


Introduction

In 1829, when the disturbances in the colliery district of the Queen's County were escalating, the local police were reporting to Colonel Sir John Harvey, Inspector-General of Police for the province of Leinster. Harvey was mostly based in Kilkenny, but sometimes in Dublin. He in turn reported to Mr William Gregory, Under-Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Dublin Castle.

In 1832, following the "proclamation" of the townlands of the colliery district as "disturbed" (see the London Times report of 18 February) Matthew Singleton, a Chief Inspector of Police and stipendiary (paid, vs honorary as the Queen's County magistrates were) magistrate of the Peace Preservation Force, was appointed, at County ratepayers' expense, as the Chief Magistrate of Police for the Colliery District. He brought with him a "flying squad" of extra police to quieten the district.  Singleton reported directly to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, the Hon. Mr Stanley, MP, or in Stanley's absence to William Gregory's successor, Sir William Gossett.


NAI, CSO RP Private Index Papers 1829/H26 (Box 1652)

I

Monday morning

My dear Mr Gregory

The enclosed note will show you that Captain Rock has got into the Collieries and has severely visited the works of a stout and useful speculator of the name of Hanlon.

In consequence of a previous communication from Mr Cosby, I had directed Mr Wray to fetch? reinforcements of Police into that part of the country (where I myself was on Tuesday last) and you will observe by Mr Cosby's postscript that the Sub Inspector has acted upon my orders. I shall follow up Mr Cosby's suggestions, by the post? of this day. Mr Hanlon shall receive all the support we can find him and Mr Wright the Chief Constable from Carlow Graig be sent into that neighbourhood, which forms part of his district.

Captain Rock's obstinacy only shows more forcibly the propriety and necessity of the late exercise voted for the Police of the Queen's County.

Be so good as to return the enclosure or to give it to me when I call.

Yours very faithfully
J Harvey
10 o'clock
Monday morning
May 4


IA

Stradbally Hall
Sunday 3

My dear Sir John [Harvey]

I wrote to you on Friday relative to some Rockite occurrences in Ballyadams. When I got the account on that day it was too late to go there it being 8 miles from here. I however went yesterday morning — and to the extent of it — I never witnessed so complete a demolition of property as that at Mr Hanlon's colliery. A very large house, chiefly used as a store house for the working utensils, was burnt to the ground, with property they say to a considerable amount in it, that is, in those articles not those of iron that do not burn they demolished, (with sledges of course) as they did every article around the coal pits. There is a new dwelling house on the premises that Mr Hanlon built, intending occasionally to reside there. It fortunately was slated an in an unfinished state but the doors, windows and every part they could destroy they did in a most effectual manner indeed. It is unaccountable that those ruffians should vent their spleen on a man, who has for a considerable time back, been expending large sums of money amongst them and was just getting over a fire engine from England at £1500 expense to set the works going again. As the water rose so fast in the pits, he could not otherwise go on working. The cause assigned is, that Hanlon, has just purchased in the Law Courts a small property adjoining to secure the Royalty of also. There are 23 families on it and they took it into their heads that Hanlon would dispossess them all and keep the land in his own possession. I could not ascertain whether or not, there was just grounds for their apprehensions. At all events, they were determined to [get] in? beforehand, with Hanlon, and no doubt, to deter him from taking these steps. The work of Thursday night was carried into execution and certainly when those fellows went about it, they did it most effectually. Hanlon as I told you is a stout fellow and not to be intimidated, but as regards a man's property, those acts will deter any man and, so long as they continue we never of course can expect any English capital to come into this country in spite of Emancipation being granted.

I did not see Mr Hanlon, but I met old Wright, the Chief Constable of the adjoining Barony there. The place is more distant from Ballylinan than I thought being 4 miles or nearly so. Newtown is the nearest Police Station to it, being but 3 miles. Spink (if we had it occupied) is about 3½ miles, Timahoe 5 and Balintubbert 5 — look on your map for the townland of Ballylehane, which is the name of the place. The Colliery is just on the borders of it, close to Wolf Hill (probably called Crissard on your map), Shanrath and Kilfeacle. I have heard of no more occurrences since — that will I suppose satisfy the Captain, for a time.

The man in care of the place was dreadfully beaten and abused, he saw but 8 or 10 men that came into the house, but knew none of them. His daughter of 13 years old says she is sure she saw 10 outside.

Yours very truly
Thos Cosby

Since I sealed my letter Mr Clancie has called here to say Mr Wray has directed 10 men to go tomorrow to Ballylinan and 2 or 4 as can be spare to Timahoe. I have opened my letter to say — as Newton is the nearest station to Ballylehane Colliery it would be well if possible, to strengthen that part and perhaps to get Mr Wright to go there himself for some time. Mr Clancie will send a bed to Ballylinan and be constantly there himself. He has a very good and active Magistrate, close on the spot there, Captain Pope.


NAI, CSO RP Private Index Papers 1829/H84 (Box 1653)

I

Stradbally 30th October 1829

Sir [Lt Wray, Sub-Inspector Queens Co]

I am sorry to have to inform you, for the information of the Inspector-General, that about three o'clock this morning the dwelling house of Mr John Hovenden, commonly called the Castle of Ballylehane, situate within a mile of Ballylinan was forcibly entered by ten men armed with Blunder busses and Pistols, who took therefrom a gun, and broke the windows in front of the house. The Police from Ballylinan were on the spot almost immediately and scoured the country around but could not fall in with the Rockites, although they heard a shot fired in the direction of Gracefield. No violence was offered to the inmates.

Mr John Hovenden is father-in-law to Mr Hanlon whose outhouse and colliery utensils were destroyed near Wolf-Hill in April. On Monday last a farmer in rather comfortable circumstances, named Doherty, was committed to Maryborough Gaol for using threatening language to Mr Hanlon, whose management, if I am rightly informed, will I fear cause himself the Magistrates and Police endless trouble, Having some difference with Doherty about the Rent of Hay he is reported to have desired "be sure to get Captain Rock to burn it tonight" which brought about the cause of Doherty's committal. The facts I am satisfied Mr Hanlon has no objection to any thing that will give him the presence of a Police force at his colliery.

Several houses were visited on the night of the 26th inst, between Ballylinan and Wolf-Hill in search of Arms, but with the exception of an old Pistol the Rockites did not find any.

About one o'clock yesterday morning some persons came to a farmer name Brenan, residing at Ballintlea, distant from this about a mile and half in same direction as the scene of the other outrages, and demanded a Pistol which he refused to give up upon which they threatened to burn his house but decamped without attempting to do so.

It is shameful the way in which the more respectable class of persons who have been visited, some of them in strong slated houses, surrender their arms without the least attempt at resistance.

I have the honour to be,
Sir,
Your obedient servant
Thos M Clancie
Chief Constable


II

NAI, CSO RP Private Index Papers 1829/H84 (Box 1653)

Carlow Graigue
30th October 1829

Sir [Lt Wray]

I beg leave to report for the information of the Inspector General, that those infatuated people calling themselves Rockites have again made their appearance in this Barony, on last night, and we are informed, attacked in the neighbourhood of Castletown, six or seven houses, from which they have obtained, to the best of our information, eight or nine stand of arms.

I have the honour etc
R Wright CC


NAI, CSO RP Private Index Papers 1829/H86 (Box 1653)

I

Ashfield Hall
3 November 1829

Sir [Lt Wray]

I am sorry again to have to report for information of the inspector General that those nightly marauders attacked a strong slated house on last night in this Barony and my neighbourhood between the Rushes and Newtown Collieries, the residence of a respectable farmer named Abbin Donnelly from whom they obtained without any resistance two guns and one pistol. On the three former nights that those people made their appearance in this district, their numbers from the best authority, did not exceed from twenty to thirty, whereas on last night, they amounted to one hundred, as report states, and from the number of arms we know of them to have obtained from time to time, think the greater part must have been armed.

I have the honour etc
Robert Wright CC


NAI, CSO RP Private Index Papers 1829/H86 (Box 1653)

Stradbally
4th November 1829

Sir [Lt Wray]

At about three o'clock this morning the house of a farmer named Patrick Brenan, situate at Clopook better than three miles SW of the town on the road to Wolf Hill, was attacked by a large party of Rockites, some of them mounted, but were gallantly resisted and beaten off by Brenan, who it is supposed wounded some of them as extensive traces of blood were found in a direction from the house.

They attempted to force the outer door with a sledge, but Brenan fired through and the sledge was dropped which we have got. A Division of the house is thatched and this they attempted to burn, but Brenan took aim at the man who was applying the fire on the end of a pitchfork and thinks he hit him, as well as the man who was forcing the door.

The Magistrates in addition to other measures have directed me to station two men in his house for the present.

The Rockites fired two shots and previous to coming to Brenans they forced into the house of his brother, Thos Brenan, within a quarter of a mile and deprived him of a case of pistols.

I beg to assure the Inspector General that everything in my power and that of my men is done to check the progress of the misguided persons who are thus outraging the public peace. There are patrols every night under the most cautious and watchful suggestions of Mr Cosby and the Magistrates. In fact it is little known how harassed and knocked up the men are by their exertions — unsuccessful though they be.

On the night that Mr Hovenden's house at Ballylehane was attacked the Ballylinan Patrol was in quite an opposite direction by the particular order of Captain Pope a Magistrate. So was the Wolf-Hill Patrol, on the side of Luggacurren. And let us change our hours and routes as we may, we are completely outgeneralled by the Rockites as if they had spies (which I am confident they have) on the movements of the Police.

The Police constantly hear shots while on Patrol, but on getting to the spot all is quiet — this being practised a good deal as a ruse.

In haste — I have the honour etc
Thos M Clancie, CC


NAI, CSO RP Private Index Papers 1830/H1 (Box 1805)

Maryboro'
January 15th 1830

Sir [John Harvey]

I have the honor to acquaint you that between the hours of 12 and 1 o'clock the night before last the house of a poor man named Fitzpatrick of Clonad near here was maliciously attacked by three persons who pushed open the door thereof and on entering found the poor man and his wife in bed, ordered them to get up and provide some eatables and drinks for them immediately, upon the poor people saying they had none (which was the case) the ruffians commenced their work of destruction, broke every article of furniture the people had, and then dragged the wife of the unfortunate Fitzpatrick outside her door in a state of nudity and knocker her down on the dung hill and kicked her most unmercifully. Meanwhile Fitzpatrick got off and ran into me almost naked (the weather cold and snowing), and called for assistance the which I afforded him with as little delay as possible, and endeavoured to have the three persons whose names Fitzpatrick gave me arrested but they could not be found. This part of the county I regret much to say still continues in a lawless and vicious state, and notwithstanding we patrol the country nightly, we cannot come up to the persons disturbing it in the act thereof.

There was a similar attack nearly made at Wolf Hill barony of Slievemargue on the house of a poor man named Mooney, a publican who refused a band of ruffians drink on the night of the 11th inst. They broke all Moony's furniture and beat him dreadfully. They met a poor lad on leaving Moony's's named McDaniell whom they also beat without mercy and in fact left him for dead. His life is despaired of. Several persons are known in the outrage and the principal is a fellow named Patrick Brennon, an old offender. Warrants have issued for the arrest of the accused, and one named Kenna is in custody. No reason whatever else than refusing drink can be assigned for the commission of either of these offences.

I have the honor to be
Sir
Your obedient and humble servant
HB Wray
Sub Inspector Queen's County


NAI, CSO RP Private Index Papers 1832/1668 (Box 2146)

I

Milford House
Athy. 2 September 1832

Sir William Gossett
Dublin Castle

Sir,

I have the pleasure to inform you that no outrage has been committed in any District during the last week. I have the Police regularly on Patrol duty.

In consequence of the people in the neighbourhood of Slatt in the Colliery, refusing to cut down and save Mr Hackett's crops there, I placed a party of eleven Policemen in a house on the ground on yesterday, in order to afford protection to any person that should come to work and also to assist in the saving to the harvest. I trust the people when they see the authorities are rendering all the aid in their power to assist such persons as may be denounced by combination, they will come forward and earn money that they and their families stand so much in need of.

During the week Mr Hackett sent down from Dublin a man to serve several tenants on his property with ejectment notices. Such proceedings on his part just now I consider very indiscreet, and is sufficient to add fuel to the flame amongst the inhabitants in that part of the country. He has complained frequently during the summer to the Government, and to me, that he could not exercise any ownership over his property in that part of the County, and I was myself, with the aid of the Police, obliged to take possession of his estate since I came to the District. If he should persist in these proceedings he will find it impossible to manage his property here. The Gentleman that is now on the lands and superintending the crops sent the Process server back to Dublin with the Notices, and denounced such conduct as most mischievous.

I have the honour to be
Sir
Your most obedient Servant
M. Singleton
Chief Magistrate Police


II

Milford House
Athy 15th September 1832

The Right Hon. EG Stanley
Dublin Castle

Sir,

I have the honor to send you enclosed a copy of an Information, which has been sworn before me, by a man named Charles Quinn, describing an outrage committed on him last February, at which time this part of the country was in a melancholy state of disturbance, when a poor man abandoned his house and land, which he was in possession of for 20 years before and held it under a lease of lives. I am happy to have it in my power to inform you that, I have secured one of the party had him identified, and I fully committed him for trial, of the name of James Condron, one of the very worst characters in this or any county. I did not hear of this poor man's complaint, until a few days ago, since which, I have taken possession of his land, and had a rich farmer of the name of Brian Donnelly, convicted before the Magistrates at Ballickmoyler Petit Session on Wednesday last, for a malicious trespass on it, for which, he was fined £5, and in default of payment to be imprisoned one month. This is a most salutary conviction and Condron's commitment, and I anticipate much good will result to the peace of the country from them. I have had the fences on this poor man's land made up by the Police, and will if possible, induce him and his desolate family to return to it in a few days.

I have the honor to be
Sir
Your most obedient servant
M Singleton
CM


IIA

Queen's County
to Witt

The Information of Charles Quinn, at present residing at Carlow Graigue in said County, weaver, who being duly sworn deposeth and saith that on the night of Thursday the 23rd February last, his house, in which he then resided, at Drumsalla [Drimsallagh, Farnans townland] in said County, was forcibly and burglariously entered by a party of about ten men, all of whom had fire arms, as Informant believes, saith said party came into the room where he, his wife and children were, one of whom, handed to him a Book, and compelled him to swear that he would surrender his land to Mr Bagnall, the agent, against nine o'clock, on the following morning, and subsequently swore him to five it up before two o'clock in the afternoon. Saith he heard his wife Catherine Quinn, ask said party for a longer time to remove her effects, to which one of them replied, she should get a fortnight. Saith one of said party struck him with a pistol on the eye brow, said man had a mark on each of his cheek bones, as if from scurvy. Saith on the following morning he proceeded to Maidenhead in said County, and tendered the possession of his said land to Mr Bagnall, which he refused to take. Saith that he is in possession of said land for the last twenty years, and holds it under a lease of three lives, or thirty one years. Saith from his house being twice attacked, and himself severely beaten on certain nights, during the proceeding fortnight, and the very disturbed state of that part of the county, he was obliged to quit his house and land at Drumsalla aforesaid, in the month of March last, and was afraid to return to it since, and to swear this his Information, before.

Saith that in the month of May last, he saw the man who struck him with a pistol, and who was marked on his cheeks (as aforesaid) in the coal market in the town of Carlow, and enquired his name, and was informed it was James Condron, nickname, Smiler.

[Signed] Charles Quinn

Sworn before me this 12th day of September 1832
M. Singleton


IIB

Queen's County
to Witt

The further Information of Charles Quinn, who being duly sworn examined and saith that he this day saw three men, in the Gaol yard in Carlow. Saith one of said men, who calls himself James Condron, is the same identical man that struck him with a pistol on the eyebrow, on the night of the 23rd February last, and who he met in the coal market in the town of Carlow, in the month of May last, as setforth in his Information on the 12th September instant.

Informant bound in the sum of fifty pounds, sterling, to prosecute the above Information, at the next assizes to be held in Maryboro for said County.

Sworn before me in Carlow Gaol
this 14th day of September 1832
M. Singleton

Charles Quinn, his mark

PS. Charles Quinn when he saw the prisoner in the Gaol yard, nearly fainted, began to cry and shake, and from his nervous feelings on seeing him, he could not write his name. It was a most satisfactory identification.

M Singleton


III

Milford House
Athy 16th September 1832

Right Hon EG Stanley
Dublin Castle

Sir,

I have the honor to inform you that on Sunday night the 9th instant, a party of men sallied out of a public house at Killishin, attacked and broke five houses with stones in the neighbourhood. I have taken Information from Laurence McCarthy, a pensioner, of the attack on his house, which they endeavoured to enter by stripping the roof, and has issued my warrant against the fellows.

On the same night one armed man rapped at the door of Pat Coleman, on the lands of Rathgilbert, who directed him to turn away two strange labouring men, and four more men stood at a distance from the house. I summoned all the inmates of the house before me, examined them on oath, and could not elicit any clue to the offenders, save suspicion against two former workmen, named David Byrne and James Knowles.

I had them apprehended and I committed them to Gaol, until they would find good bail for their future good behaviour.

On Wednesday night some person attempted to set on fire the house of Edward Lennon, near Carlow Graigue. I visited the house and enquired into it, and found it proceeded from a difference of two women. I have the parties summoned for next sessions.

Adverting to my last week's report of the shooting of Mr Handlon's dog, I have the pleasure to inform you, the shot was not intended for Mr Handlon. I held a strict inquiry into the affair. The result was, my committing John Kealy to Carlow Gaol, on my strong suspicion, until he finds good bail for his future good conduct.

I have the honor to be
Sir
Your most obedient servant
M Singleton
Chief Magistrate Police


IV

Milford House
Athy. 23rd September 1832

The Right Hon. EG Stanley
Dublin Castle

Sir,

I have the honor to inform you that, I had ten men, who were apprehended by the Police at a Dance, at an improper hour of the night, brought before the Magistrates at Ballickmoyler Petit Session on Wednesday last, and in order to prevent such nightly meetings, I recommended they should be committed to Carlow Gaol, until they would give bail for their future good conduct.

I have much pleasure in stating that on Friday last, I had one of the said prisoners, name John Sharp, fully and most satisfactorily identified as being one of a large party of Whitefeet, who entered the dwelling house of Mr John Haughey, on the lands of Graigue and who robbed him of a gun, on Sunday morning the 6th May last. I have fully committed him for trial at our next assizes. I send enclosed a copy of the Information.

I have the honor to be
Sir
Your most obedient servant
M Singleton
Chief Magistrate Police


IVA

Queen's County
to Witt

The Information of Mr John Haughey of the lands of Graigue, Parish of Killishin, Barony of Slievemargue in said county, farmer.

Informant being duly sworn examined and saith that he was in bed on Sunday morning, the sixth of May last, on the lands of Graigue (aforesaid). Saith he was awoke by some persons rapping at the door of his house, about the hour of three o'clock. Saith in a short time, after, three men entered the room where he was in bed. Saith one of said three men asked Informant for his arms. Saith he replied he had no arms, on which, said man asked him where was the blunderbuss and pistols he had. Informant then said he had no such arms, but a gun he had for keeping off the crows. Saith he heard some person outside on the road direct said man, to swear Informant, and to ask him where was the brass barrel blunderbuss, and pistols. Saith he replied the brass barrelled blunderbuss was at Corbally, and that Captain Pope, a Magistrate, took up said blunderbuss. Saith said three men brought him out of his bed room to the parlour, where he was compelled to give said men a gun, after which they went away.

Informant bound in the sum of fifty pounds sterling to prosecute this Information at the next assizes to be held at Maryboro'.

Sworn before me in Carlow Gaol
this 21st day of September 1832
M Singleton

Signed John Haughey


IVB

Queen's County
to Witt

The Information of John Hayden, nephew, to the aforesaid Mr John Haughey. Informant being duly sworn examined and saith that he slept on the stable loft at the house of his said uncle, John Haughey, on the lands of Graigue, on Sunday morning the 6th may last. Saith he was awoke about the hour of three o'clock on said morning by the barking of the dogs, on which he came to the door of said stable, and saw three men coming out of the door of the said John Haughey's dwelling house, one of whom had his said uncle's gun. Saith said men went out on the road, and he heard other men, who was standing on the road, direct said three men to return and to swear Haughey about the brass barrel blunderbuss. Saith the said three men then returned to the house, and on their coming and returning from the house, the man who had the gun presented it at him, and said he would shoot Informant if he would not keep in his head.

Saith he accompanied his aforesaid uncle John Haughey, on Wednesday last the 19th September instant, to the Petit Sessions at Ballickmoyler in said county. Saith he saw a man in the Court House of Ballickmoyler, who calls himself John Sharp. Said he is positive that said John Sharp is the man who took the gun from his uncle's house, and who presented it at him, and who swore he would shoot him, on the morning of the 6th May as aforesaid.

Informant bound in the sum of fifty pounds sterling to prosecute this Information at the next assizes to be held at Maryboro.

Sworn before me at Carlow Gaol
this 21st day of September 1832
M Singleton

(Signed) John Hayden, his mark

PS. John Hayden this day selected and identified in my presence the aforesaid John Sharp from among ten prisoners in the Gaol Yard of Carlow.

M Singleton


V

Milford House
Athy 27th September 1832

Sir William Gosset
Dublin Castle

Sir,

Adverting to my report of the 23rd instant, the arrest and committal of John Sharp, to the County Gaol, on the Information of John Hayden, charged with entering the house of Mr John Haughey, with others, near Carlow, and carrying thereout a gun.

I have the honor to inform you, since which, the said John Hayden, has been turned out of the house of the said John Haughey, tho' he being his uncle, the family being afraid of detaining him any longer in the house, in consequence of having come forward and identified the prisoner John Sharp. This conduct on the part of Haughey's family will have a very bad effect in the country. It is sufficient to deter any person from coming forward to swear Informations against the persons engaged in the disturbance of the country, and at the same time, it will give the latter persons confidence in their proceedings. In order to counteract such evils, I have taken the said John Hayden under my care, until I receive your pleasure relative to his case. This demonstrates the great fear and tyranny that the respectable farmers are still labouring under, so as to compel a man to turn out his own nephew, to save his family from the vengeance of the Whitefeet.

Another of my witnesses got a night's lodging last week, from her landlord, and in consequence of him presuming to do so, his hay was scattered about his ground on the following night. These are bad symptoms on the eve of winter nights.

I have the honor to be
Sir
Your most obedient servant
M Singleton
Chief Magistrate


NAI, CSO RP Private Index Papers 1833/88 (NAI ref 3/606/2173)

Maryboro 15th March 1833

Sir William Gosset
Dublin Castle

Sir

I have the honour to inform you, that on yesterday, I had John Sharp, placed on his trial for attacking with other Whitefeet, the house of Mr Haughey, near Carlow Graigue, and carrying thereout a gun, on the night of the 21st September last, and after a patient trial, he was found guilty, and sentenced to be transported for seven years.

This is the prosecution that the Right Hon.  Mr Stanley stated in the House of Commons a few nights ago, that the uncle of the Crown Witness, named John Hayden, actually turned him out of his house, in order that the Whitefeet should see, that it was not he, Mr Haughey, that identified the prisoner, John Sharp, in consequence of the disturbed state of the Country, and the intimidation throughout the District.

I have the honor to be
Sir
Your most obedient Servant
M Singleton
Chief Magistrate Police


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