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reside, on the pain of death, at the expiration of eight days from this date; observe, unless you comply, that neither interest, police, or any other sect, shall or will be able to protect you from the punishment I will inflict; that is to say, immediate death,
Signed at Consideration Hall, in the
“ The Honourable Lady Clare *. “ Dated this 6th day of December, 1831.”
“Denis Flynn, this is to let you know, if you do not give peasable possession in this house on the fourth day of March next, you will put me to the trouble of coming a long jorney + to execute the desine according to the custom of the contry. Otherwise pay regular and lawful rent for the said house as may be agreed upon, if not, mark the consequence, for I swear vehemently, if you do not comply with this advice, that I shall and will I use the severest means that ever was used with any.
“ I am your friend,
Captain Starlight, &c. &c.”
“John Ronyn, Take Warnen by this to quit, Not to loose your time improoving, for as shure as you do, death will be your doome. Let me see that you quit before the first day of January next, or else if you dont, Captain Rock and his men will visit you."
[At the foot of this notice is a rude drawing of a gun pointed at a man, and a ball issuing from it.]
* First Commons Report on Tithes in Ireland, p. 212.
of This alludes to the practice of sending for persons from a distance to commit a crime.
This is a very ludicrous instance of an attempt to imitate the prolix style of legal instruments.
“ March the 23rd, 1834,
Captain Fear not *."
If a person who receives a notice of this kind disobeys the order contained in it, the executors of the Whiteboy law then proceed to take measures for striking him. In many cases, however, this preliminary form of notice is dispensed with, and the Whiteboy regulations are presumed to be known, and therefore held to be binding, without any special command, It
may, moreover, be observed that the Whiteboys have very retentive memories; that their odia in longum recondita, their ancient spites, are sometimes felt when their victims had for years lived in a false security. There seems to be no statute of limitation against Whiteboy vengeance ; no prescription seems to give a title where the party has taken land in contravention of the Whiteboy rules; and people are sometimes almost unable to find a motive for the punishment inflicted on them, so completely had the ground of complaint passed from their minds.
In order to increase the difficulty of detection, the parties who actually commit the crime are often sent for from a distance of five, ten, or twenty miles ;
* For the three last notices, which were stuck up in Roscrea, or its neighbourhood, the author is indebted to the chief constable of police in that town.
and the persons interested in the transaction take no direct part in it.
“In Cork (says Mr. Blacker, speaking of 1823), there seemed to be a regular system of commuuication among those different bodies of persons, and an arrangement appeared aster to have been made, that when outrages were going to be committed, one body of men should send a detachment to achieve the object to a distant part of the county, where, being strangers, detection should not be so easy*."
Mr. Price, speaking of a Whiteboy outrage committed in Ossoryt, says of the persons concerned in it,
* They were brought from a distance, and had no possible personal interest with the transaction; they did not live in the neighbourhood; they had not taken any quarter-ground I; they came to do the job for Wall; the persons who attacked the house never saw Mara, and could have no interest in cheapening the quarter-ground or injuring Mara. . . They were Whitefeet, sent for, and I suppose bound by an oath to go a certain distance on being summoned by a brotherş.”
“ By what means (the Rev. Mr. O'Connor is asked) do they carry forward this system of interfering and regulating what they conceive to be their own interest as to land, wages and other matters ?-I do not know of any other way (he answers) than that persons near the place do not appear in
* H. C., 1824, p. 47. ofo See the particulars of it above, p. 150-2. to Quarter-ground is the same as what is called conacre in other parts of Ireland. It is so named from being let in quarters of an acre.
Conacre is a corruption of corn-acre ; land having, it would seem, been formerly let in Ireland for corn, as it is now let for potatoes. A system exactly similar to the Irish conacre prevails in the southern and southwestern counties of England. See the Poor-Law Report, pp. 181, 183, 189, 8vo. ed. It also prevails in France, according to M. Chateauvieux, there cited.
§ H. C., 1832, Nos. 6682-3. As to the obligation to go a distance to a brother, see the Whitefoot's oath, above, p. 166-7.
those outrages; they generally send a communication to some five or six or ten miles off, and they come in a body to effect their purpose.”—H. C., 1832, No. 3193.
The persons who commit these crimes do not, like the bandits of Italy, or the London thieves, follow crime as a profession: they are merely called out by their brethren for the occasion, and when their task has been done, they resume their ordinary habits of life.
“ Do you believe (Mr. Barrington is asked) that when men have so committed themselves in violation of the public peace, that it is almost impossible for them to recede, and they are obliged to keep that up in their own defence because they are not re-admissible into society ?-I do not find that exactly (he answers); for very soon after disturbances have ceased, in which some of these men have been deeply engaged (where they have not been concerned in murder) they have become quiet and peaceable, and have returned to their former occupations*.”
The crimes committed by the Whiteboys as a punishment for the violation of their commands, may be reduced to three heads :-1. Death ; 2. Corporal infliction ; 3. Destruction of property.
With regard to homicides committed by the Whiteboys, there is nothing remarkable in them, except that they have been sometimes accompanied with circumstances of great cruelty. The murder of the Sheas, when a house was set on fire, and the persons who attempted to escape were caught on pitchforkst, affords an instance. They have likewise been sometimes committed in the face of day, and in the presence of large numbers of people, who were approving spectators of the act. As to bodily in
* H. C., 1832, No. 31.
fA similar instance of cruelty among the Scottish borderers is recorded in the ballad of Edom of Gordon, in Percy's Reliques.
fliction, severe beatings are very common; mutilation is also sometimes practised. The horrible practice of carding, above described*, has now been disused; so that even the Whiteboys have followed the stream of opinion in softening the rigour of their punishments. The usual modes of destroying property are, the burning of houses and haggards, and the houghing of cattle. In some cases, the ears and tails of horses, and the teats of cow's are cut off; sheep are likewise shorn and mangled in a barbarous manner, not for the sake of the wool, but in order to spoil the sheep. Windows are likewise often broken, and other property in and about houses damaged or burnt. Other modes of inflicting pain are occasionally resorted to; such, for example, as the ravishing of women in order to wreak vengeance on their husbands or fathers. A short and easy mode of arriving at a desired end is the turning up of grass land, sometimes practised by the Whiteboys. By these means, the farmers are compelled to let their ground for setting potatoes, without the long and troublesome process of notices, burnings, beatings, and murders. This method was practised to a great extent by the Terry Alts in the last disturbances in Limerick and Clare; bodies of several hundred or even several thousand men with spades used to assemble, sometimes in the day-time, and turn up a meadow in a few hours.
The following general view of this part of the
* P. 146, and see p. 107. I see, however, from a paragraph in the Fermanagh Reporter, recently copied in the London newspapers, that, during this winter, a large party of Whiteboys visited a man in the county of Leitrim, and “ with a hollybush (a new substitute for the card) lacerated and punctured his back and shoulders in a most shocking manner, and otherwise beat and battered him."