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feel, that as they one by one present themselves to the power of the law, the whole system is materially weakened.”—H. C., 1824, p. 31.
Major Warburton, however, who, from his position, had a more precise knowledge of the distinctive names assumed by different disturbers of the peace in the west of Ireland, and the minute shades of difference between them, draws a line between the Ribbonmen and the Whiteboys.
“ Do you consider that the two systems, the Ribbon system and the system of insurrection against property, were distinct systems from each other?—I think there were a great number of Captain Rocks that were not Ribbonmen at all.
“ The insurgents in Galway, as well as Clare, were called Ribbonmen, were they not ?-No, I do not think they were.
“ Do not you recollect that, in the year 1820, the persons who made the irruption from Galway, went by the common name of Ribbonmen?-Yes; at the time alluded to, they were called Ribbonmen certainly; but when I say that, I do not think they were the Ribbonmen I have been alluding to, I did not know at the time that they were under the same obligation.
“ Do you not consider them as distinct systems; the system against property, and the Ribbon system ?-I believe I have already said that I thought the Ribbon system was more of a political system than the other.
“ Do you consider them as distinct systems ?-In so far as that, I think they are; but I think there are a great many Captain Rocks not engaged in the Ribbon system; I think that there are many local outrages that were not connected with the Ribbon system.
“ Is the connexion where it takes place an accidental one, or are they one and the same system ?-I will mention a circumstance that probably will give a better view of it than I could in explaining: I happen to know one instance of a person who had been ejected from a farm, he was considerably enraged at being so, and that man went to a distance of, I
think, twenty or thirty miles to be sworn, and to get the oath and the password, in order to come back and make a party in his own neighbourhood, to avenge the injury that he felt. “ To be sworn as a Ribbonman ?-Yes.
think that the local system arose out of the Ribbon system?-I knew of the local system of my own knowledge, previous to my knowledge of any Ribbon system existing.
• What is the opinion you have formed from your knowledge upon the subject ?-I do not know how to draw the distinction.
“ Has the one grown out of the other, or are they distinct in their origin?—I think they are distinct in their origin.
“ Do not you think they are distinct in their object; the one political, for the subversion of government and the Protestant religion, and the other for the subversion of property ?—Yes.
“ Then do not you think the introduction of the oath, from the county of Clare, arises from a wish to engraft the one on the other?-Generally speaking, wherever I have found any local system of outrage take place to any extent, it always receives the tinge of a political purpose; they introduced something of that, but I do not think they did to the same extent in Clare.
“ Do not you think that wherever any system (whatever its origin) is spread amongst the peasantry and the population of the country, they being almost all Roman Catholics, it must receive a religious tinge?-I think it must.
“ Do they not in many instances combine the two systems?
"Have you not heard that the persons engaged in the Ribbon system have in some instances rather wished to keep back the local system, as interfering with their general plans of insurrection ?-I have heard that it was agitated at some of their meetings, that the local disturbances had gone on too fast, and that it was imprudent their having done so, and embarrassed them*.”-H. C., 1824, p. 137.
* As an additional proof (if any were needed) of the fundamental difference between Ribbonism and Whiteboyism, it m be mentioned that Ribbonism has continued to exist in opposition to Orangeism among the Irish settled in Glasgow and in Liverpool ; whereas Whiteboy crimes are
" Do you consider the Ribbonmen and Captain Rock's men as the same body, or do they differ?-I think there are a great number of Captain Rock’s men who are not Ribbonmen; but generally, when any local circumstances occur, they form a local association for some purpose; if that continues at all, they are incorporated with the Ribbon system, by those who have an interest to increase their numbers. I know an instance of one man, who, having been ejected from his farm, went about twenty miles to get the form of an oath, to form a party to avenge himself.
“ You think, from being Captain Rock's men, they afterwards became Ribbonmen?—I do, in many cases.”—H. L., 1824, p. 92.
The connexion between Ribbonism and Whiteboyism (wherever any subsists) arises in one of the two following ways: either agents are sent from the Ribbon societies to the counties where the Whiteboy combinations exist, in order to raise and extend their objects; or the secret oaths taken by the Ribbonmen are used by the persons who swear in the Whiteboys. An instance of this first kind of connexion (which appears to be of very rare occurrence) is mentioned by Major Warburton; it relates to a person sent from Dublin, who came in a gig from Limerick to the barony of Bunratty, county of Clare, and was therefore of a class higher than those engaged in the Whiteboy unions.
“ The manner (he says) in which I obtained this information is rather curious; one of my men, an intelligent person, had been at an out-station, at a place called Six-mile-bridge, in
as utterly unknown among the Irish in Scotland and in England as they are among the Scotch and English themselves. See Report on the State of the Irish Poor in Great Britain, App., p. 105 and 121, for the statements of Bishop Scott and Mr. Whitty on this subject. A Ribbon society among the Irish of Hyde and Stayley Bridge is mentioned by the Rev. Mr. Fisher. ib. p. 83.
the county of Clare, and had formed an acquaintance with a farmer's son there, who was rather of a better order; I believe his father paid 150l. or 2001. a year rent; and this man came into Ennis, where one of my police that I have already mentioned was then stationed; the policeman was on duty that night, and in consequence of this man being able to render a very material service to the young man, he said, “You have been very kind to me; I think I am in possession of something that might be useful to you. I was not at home at the time, but the policeman encouraged him to go on, and he told him that he had been very lately concerned in a conspiracy that appeared to him to have a desperate object in view, and that he thought he would be able to be of use to him ; the man immediately communicated to me upon the subject, and I saw the person afterwards; when he told him the matter had been made known to me; he then told me candidly, he had been in Limerick, and had met a person from Dublin who had sworn him in, and that he had in consequence himself sworn in several in the county of Clare; and, after some further communications, I got from him the system of organization, and the oath printed, which had been brought from Dublin, and confided to him to make use of in his district; and from that person I received very considerable information as to their proceedings from time to time; he was very imprudent in his mode of life, he occasionally drank, and he made use of some expressions at one time that raised a suspicion of his having given some information, and about twelve months ago he was followed out one night by three or four individuals who assassinated him.
“ Did he explain what that desperate object was, in which he was to serve his friend ?—He explained that their intention was to overturn the government, and to destroy all the Protestants; and that, in the course of doing so, he would interpose as far as he could for him.
“ Was he a Protestant ?-No, he was not.
“ Was the person whom he promised to protect a Protestant ?-Yes, he was.”-H. C., 1824, p. 135-6.
That the rural population of Munster and Connaught are constantly in a state in which they are liable to be practised upon by such agents, is doubtless true: but that scarcely any influence of this kind is in fact exercised, that the objects of the Whiteboys are exclusively local, and that if any attempts have been made to engraft more general views, they have proved fruitless, has been shown by the detailed evidence already produced, to which may be added the general statement of Mr. Barrington.
“ In your experience of the people, notwithstanding they have many faults, are you of opinion that generally speaking they are a people of a good and sound feeling ?-I do think so. I never knew a single instance of hostility or combination against the Government for these last seventeen years. The Irish peasant is very much attached to any one who treats him kindly, but he is easily led astray.
“ Within your experience they have had no political character?-No.
"And scarcely any that were tinged with a religious character?-I never knew but one case, and that was at Tarbert, a case of administering an oath to murder Protestants; that is a great many years ago.
Was that after the Tarbert corps was formed ?–1 think it was.”—H. C. 1832. Nos. 284-7.
The secret oaths are another means of connexion, such as it is, between Ribbonism and Whiteboyism.
“ You consider the Commons' Committee say to Mr. O'Connell) the insurrectionary movements which have taken place in the south as distinct from Ribbonism ?—Entirely (he answers); the only feature they have in common is, that the insurrectionary movements in the south were also coupled with secret association, and oaths of obedience and secresy."-H.C., 1825. p. 71.