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It will be observed that Mr. O'Reilly, in giving the above faithful account of what passed with regard to this particular transaction, expresses his opinion that the Catholic clergy in general were quite free from any such participation.
It is however to be observed, that although Whiteboyism has not a religious character, yet the persons concerned in it, being the labourers and cottier farmers of the south and west, are exclusively Catholics : there are, in fact, none, or scarcely any Protestants in the class for whose protection this system has been organized. The following testimonies all relate to the recent disturbances in the Queen's County, but they probably apply, with equal or even greater force, to the more purely Catholic parts of Munster and Connaught.
“ It is not founded upon religious distinction ?- No; but religion is the bond of union; I do not think they would trust a Protestant.
Then this association is confined to the Roman Catholic religion ?-Yes; but they prey upon Roman Catholics who do not join them.
“ Have any Protestants been committed under charges of this kind ? -No.
“ The great majority of the lower classes are Catholics ?Yes.
“ And the association is confined to the lower classes? Entirely, as far as I know; but there must be some higher powers that move them, or they could not carry it on as they do.”—H. C., 1832, Nos. 1082—6.
Henry Smyth, Esq.
" Are you aware of the fact, that the body of the Whitefeet bound together by this illegal oath are exclusively Roman
Catholics ?-I am not aware of it, but I believe it to be so; I am not aware of the Protestants being implicated.
“ The emigration from among the Protestants in Queen's County has been extensive in proportion to their numbers ?I do not know that ; but I think, unless something more is done for the security of the country, that many more of the respectable people will emigrate."—H. C., 1832, Nos. 4568-9.
Rev. J. Delaney.
“ Are you aware of any but Roman Catholics being members of that body?-No.
" Are there any Protestants of so low a class in society, or so poor as those who generally compose the Whitefeet?-I cannot speak of the county generally, of my own knowledge; I speak of the district in which I reside, and I say that in that district there are not Protestants to be found in so very poor and low and destitute a condition as the class of persons who generally compose those illegal associations.”—H. C., 1832, Nos. 4451-2.
Robt. Cassidy, Esq.
“ Are you aware that the Whitefeet association is exclusively Roman Catholic ?-I am not aware that it is exclusively Roman Catholic; but I am bound in fairness to say, that I have never heard of a Protestant being what is called a sworn brother, but I have heard of Protestants being applied to to join them.”—H. C., 1832, No. 5984.
There appear to have been a few instances of Protestants being implicated in Whiteboy proceedings; in one case, of which the details are given, it will be observed, that the party was in a higher class of life, and that he employed the persons who committed the outrage.
James Robinson Price, Esq., speaking of Ossory, in the Queen's County :-
“ Mara was a surveyor, employed by me to survey burnt
ground. The year before, a man of the name of Wall, a Protestant and an under-tenant, burnt a considerable quantity of ground upon the Ladies Fitzpatrick's estate; he took the land under the court, on the death of Mr. White. I surveyed the land, and summoned him before the magistrates, who fined him. The next year, notwithstanding, he persevered in burning double the quantity, and he gave it to be understood to the people, or to the Whitefeet thereabouts, that if they kept off the fine and prevented the surveyor from effecting a survey, that they should have the quarter ground at 6l. an acre, or otherwise they should pay 101. ; in consequence a detachment of Whitefeet, who lived ten miles off, were summoned, and this Wall supplied them with money ; on their way they attacked the surveyor's house, and fired into it; the surveyor's son fired on them, and wounded a man in the arm, of the name of Robinson ; the country people turned out next morning, and, assisted by the police, they pursued Robinson by the tracks of his blood, and they took him in a corn field concealed. Robinson turned approver, and prosecuted three men to conviction, who have been since transported. . . . . The most important part of that transaction was Wall sending for them, and Wall being cognizant of their proceedings. Wall was tried and acquitted; the Rev. Mr. Caulfield, a Protestant clergyman, came to give him a character, considering him a religious man; but when he heard the evidence he went away, without being produced on the table. Mr. Baron Smith, in discharging him, said, that he was morally guilty of the blood of those men.' Sentence of death was passed upon them, but with an intimation to the magistrates of the county, that if the county was tranquillized in the meantime they would be recommended for transportation; and the magistrates assembled in August, and recommended the sentence to be commuted, in consequence of the improved state of the county. . . . . Wall was tried in conjunction with three others; he was not convicted, but the judge said he was morally guilty of the lives of the other three: he was indicted, not for a conspiracy, but for the attack on the house, and it was not proved by Robinson the
informer that he was at the attack; but it was proved he sent for the men, and met them at his own house, and offered them a 30s. note, which was refused.
“ Who was that proved by ?—Robinson the informer, who went to attack the house; Robinson was taken up by the country people, by a lad of the name of Kikfoyle; and he has since been put into the police, because he could not live in the country."
Mr. Price further adds,
“ I know other instances where the Whitefeet have been sent for by one Protestant to intimidate another Protestant; that is the reason that I
those Whitefeet are made use of by designing men, who may not be bound by their oath, but who, by the agency of a servant-boy or understrapper in their employment, make use of them to carry their purposes into effect.
think that a man who so makes use of an existing evil, identifies himself with it?-Yes, I think so; I think he is worse ;
the receiver is worse than the thief.' “ Will you be so good as to name any other Protestant that has been convicted or accused of participation in these offences ?- I have no knowledge of any other convicted or accused. I know an instance where a Protestant tenant ploughed up a considerable number of acres of pasture land; the landlord remonstrated with the tenant for it, and cautioned him not to burn it; and notwithstanding that caution, I heard and believe that a considerable number of Whitefeet came there in the open day and cocked the peating, or prepared it for burning, and it was supposed those people would not come there without the tacit consent of the tenant; that was the inference drawn from it. I am sure I am far from wishing to make an impression that any considerable number of Protestants are connected with it, but I am asked as to the fact, and I am bound to state it.”-H. C., 1832, Nos. 6680-4, 6989-92, 7008.
Mr. Myles O'Reilly having confirmed Mr. Price's
statement with respect to Wall's having employed Whiteboys to commit an outrage for him, proceeds to say, —
“ I have never heard of any other Protestant being engaged in similar proceedings, directly or indirectly; and I am quite certain that if it be not absolutely a solitary case, it is as nearly so as possible: I never heard of
case, nor ever heard, nor do believe, that Protestants were members of that faction; on the contrary, they have been, in the Queen's County, the special, though not by any means exclusive, objects of persecution and intimidation by the Whitefeet and Blackfeet, and are compelled thereby to transport themselves into foreign countries in vast numbers; an emigration which it appears very lamentable, on many considerations, to witness.” -H. C., 1832, No. 7126*.
Many Protestants seem, however, to have been engaged in the Whiteboy disturbances of 1786.
“ Were they not Protestants (says Mr. O'Leary, in his answer to Bishop Woodward), who proposed the oaths to the congregation at Clonakilty ? Were they not Protestants who overran the parishes of Affydown, Skibbereen, &c. ? Were they not Protestants who headed a party of four hundred Whiteboys near Butterant? The most respectable criminals--if a criminal can be respectable—who were arraigned before the judges on the Munster circuit, were Protestants. If from the county of Cork his lordship had taken an excursion to the county of Kerry, he would find the truth of an assertion made by a gentleman who is both a ciergyman and a magistrate, and who bears the happy character of uniting in his person the
* Whenever Whiteboyism has prevailed in parts of the country where Protestants are more numerous, some of them seem to have been engaged in it. Mr. Sergeant Moore states, of the disturbances of the Thrashers in the county of Longford in 1806, that“ they were not con fined to any particular persuasion of people." (Above, p. 42). A Protestant Thrasher is incidentally mentioned in the county of Leitrim. Trials of the Thrashers, p. 259.