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NAMES: William CUNNINGHAM; John JACKSON; John WILSON; John CONNELLAN, a Dundalk apothecary; Mrs. McCAUL; John KELLY of Dundalk; Thomas Gunning BASHFORD, Belfast shopkeeper; Mr. CAMPBELL of Derry; William DONALDSON of Freeduff; Mr. O'HANLON; Daniel DEVIT.
Sharon Oddie Brown. November 10, 2008


1798 August 9

The Times, Thursday, Aug 09, 1798; pg. 3; Issue 4251; col B 

Dublin, August 3.


Tuesday the court met and proceeded on the trial of William Cunningham[1], John Jackson[2], and John Wilson[3]. The prisoners were charged with acts of High Treason, committed by them and others at a Provincial Meeting of the delegates of Ulster, at Armagh, on 10 May last; and for aiding, siding, and assisting, in the Rebellion.

The Prosecutor for the Crown, in a short speech, stated to the Court the nature of the charges which he meant proved by evidence.

John Connellan[4] knows the prisoners, was sworn an United Irishmen by one Derry, about a twelve-month ago. On 10 May last[5], he was at Armagh by the direction of United Irishmen of the County of Louth; and they applied to witness to go as a delegate from the County of Louth. They told witness there was to be a provincial meeting of delegates from the United Irishmen of Ulster, or to meet at Armagh for the purpose of receiving a messenger from the Executive of Belfast, from Belfast. One witness objecting that he was not accustomed to meet in that kind of society, never having attended such meetings; he was informed that the design of the meeting was to get a report from the messenger of the Executive, who would deliver instructions to each delegate; and one of the persons who disputed the witness, gave him a small bit of paper, and desired him deliver it to Mr. Jackson, of Armagh. On the one side of the paper was written Mrs. McCaul[6], and on the other, John Jackson, he was desired to call on John Jackson, in Armagh, who directed to the house of Mrs. McCaul, where the Provincial were to meet. Witness knows John Kelly[7] lives near Dundalk; he was one of the persons whom he received directions from to go to Armagh. Kelly gave witness his resignation of his office of Adjutant General of the rebels in the County of Louth; and directed him to give in his resignation to the meeting at Armagh, being, he said not qualified to act in that situation, from his want of skill and military knowledge. Witness went to Armagh, and called on John Jackson; told him he was sent there from the County of Louth, to attend the Provincial, and showed him the bit of paper. Witness asked Jackson if the messenger from Belfast had arrived? who told him he had not, but believed he soon would; and told witness the hour appointed for meeting was 12 o'clock. It was then about 11 o'clock, and witness went to the house of one Campble[8], a publican, almost opposite, where in a short time Jackson came; then they went out, and Jackson pointed out to him the house of Mrs. McCaul, and desired witness to rap at the door, and said some of the gentlemen were already assembled. Jackson then left witness who went to Mrs. McCaul's house and wrapped at the door. Having got in, he was introduced to her room upstairs, where he met the prisoner's Cunningham and Wilson, and seven or eight other persons. Saw some of these persons take their tickets out of their watch cases and tear them saying they were of no further use. Witness also tore his ticket. Amongst the persons present, besides the prisoner's Cunningham and Wilson, work Mr. Bashford[9], from Belfast; Mr. Campble[10] from Derry; and Mr. Donaldson[11], from Armagh; the names of the others he does not recollect, but they were all delegates from the several counties of Ulster. Bashford observed to the meeting, it would be better to appoint a President or Chairman, and proceed to business. Witness was proposed to be President, but objected; upon which Bashford told him it was only a matter of form. Witness then took the chair. Mr. Bashford addressed the meeting, and said, he was instructed by the Executive Committee of Belfast to tell them a long expected messenger from France was not yet arrived, but was to be expected; possibly before his return to Belfast he might arrive, or perhaps in a few days; if he should not, he would probably before next meeting; and therefore every member upon his return home, should remain at the place of his abode, or leave word where he was to be found. Said he was also introduced by the Executive Committee of Belfast, (which he sometimes named Executive of Ulster), that each county should appoint an additional member to the Executive of Ulster, which additional members should be a resident, for the purpose of immediate communication between the Executive Committee of Belfast and the counties; and communicate the instructions of the Executive to the Committee of the towns. Bashford also told the meeting that he was instructed by the Executive to desire each of them, upon their return to their counties, to make a return of the military force government had in each county; also a return to the yeomanry; and the number of friends (i.e. United Irishmen), they, the Executive, had in each corps; with the return of the arms and ammunition belonging to the Government forces, and where deposited. He further said it was their duty to return to their respective abodes, and communicate the instructions he had delivered to the persons who appointed them, and to act accordingly. A second meeting was next talked of. A conversation ensued about an intended attack on Dublin from which it appeared to witness, that Bashford knew of an intended insurrection in Dublin. Do not recollect anything further, except that Tuesday fortnight was appointed for another meeting, which was to be held in the house of a person of the name of Campble, who lives in Armagh. Campble keeps a public house, and witness dined there that day with the prisoners, Messrs. Jackson, Cunningham, and Wilson; Mr. Campble from Derry; and Mr. Donaldson from Armagh. Witness further recollects, that Bashford mentioned that a prior meeting to that of the10:h , the Executive had changed their mind with respect to trying their strength with government, being now determined to wait the arrival of a messenger from France, and to regulate their course by the dispatches or instructions he should bring. The conversation at dinner turned upon what had been transcribed at the meetings; when some gave their opinion one way and some another. Some were of opinion that the insurrection could not be accomplished without the aid of the French; whilst others thought their aid unnecessary. The prisoner Jackson was present during this conversation; supposes they were about three hours together, when they broke up, and witness slept in Armagh that night and next they went home. When witness returned home, he took the earliest opportunity of informing the persons who appointed him, of the instructions he had caught at the meeting. The purposes of the return of arms, ammunition, and &c. was for making a comparison between the government force and their own. Witness gave in James Kelly's resignation of his office of Adjutant General of the County of Louth, in the presence of the prisoner's Cunningham and Wilson, and the other delegates; but directed his discourse to Bashford, who was the person who received the resignation.

Cross-examined -- near two years since witness followed business; never took the oath of allegiance; was not a Defender. First made connection in Dublin of this meeting; witness had taken United Irishmen's oath, and threats were made use of to induce witness to do so, otherwise his inclinations did not lead them to take it; witness did not disapprove of the insurrection at that time, but thought their purpose could not be effected without the assistance of the French. Witness has been in close confinement for about two months; was arrested in Dundalk, and would not have come here to give any evidence of his own accord. Previous to his being taken up he was supported by his brother. Sought no books or any resolutions at the meeting; never was any meeting of that kind before; but has heard they were extremely regular; and kept books; but from motives of secrecy this is been abandoned; has received no present or money since he came here; has got a hat and a pair of boots which are not yet paid for; is a Roman Catholic. Witness does not expect the smallest gift from government but has formed an idea, that making useful discoveries he has a chance of saving his life. Heard Cunningham say that the people in his country, viz Monaghan were well organized and armed, and anxious to come forward.

The court adjourned to Wednesday, when they met again at 11 o'clock.

Thomas Prentice Esq. on the part of the Prisoner Mr. Jackson was sworn -- lives in Armagh and knows Jackson to be a young man of integrity, much attached truth, and of peaceable manners; recollects, in a conversation between the prisoner Jackson and himself, about the 10th or 25th of May last, the prisoner assured witness that he had not attended any meetings since June 1797, and deprecated in the strongest manner any attempt to disturb the peace of the country. Never heard of John Connellan till the prisoners were taken up, when it was the common rumor that he was to swear against the Armagh people. Did not think the United Irishmen had any meetings in Armagh in May last and believes they were not then in a state of organization. -- did not hear of any disturbance or insurrection in the County of Monaghan.

Mr. O'Hanlon[12] sworn - is not an United Irishman -- has known Connellan these several years, and from his general character witness does not think he is to be believed in the Court of Justice upon his oath.

Witness supposes that Connollan was concerned in the actual robbery of the mail at Fleury-bridge. – adjourned

Thursday the court met at 11 o'clock, and continued the examination of Mr. O'Hanlon.

Mrs. O'Hanlon was next examined. Her deposition in almost every circumstance corroborated that of her husband's.

Daniel Devit[13] sworn -- lives in Dundalk, where he has resided for near 30 years; knows John Connellan since he was an apprentice; and from his own knowledge of Connellan and his general character, does not think he is worthy of credit upon earth. Was not examined in any court-martial at Drogheda.

[Friday -- the Court was sitting on this trial when the Belfast paper was put to press.]


[1] William CUNNINGHAM. A William Cunningham of Ballymena, Co Antrim came from a family extensively involved in the milling business and with connections to Ballyaby. SOURCE” Mary France Kerley, The Rise & Fall of a Village Industry Cornacarrow & Laragh Mills 1775 – 1925 published in Johnston, J. (Ed), “Monaghan studies in Local History”, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, 2008. I am unsure if he was deported. There was a William CUNNINGHAM at the time in St. Vincents. SOURCE: PRONI D/1108/A  Cunningham and Clarke manuscripts.  The name is mentioned in Historical CollectionsRelative to the Town of Belfast  by Henry Joy, 1817.

[2] John JACKSON. An excellent article on the JACKSONs in the 1798 Rebellion can be found at: http://farrell-family.org/ancestry/JacksonsKirkmans/Rebels/Rebels.html  Going from this, I would think it likely that this is most likely  the John JACKSON (1744-1824), the son of Hugh JACKSON & Elinor GAULT. The residence of John Jackson, the younger brother of James, was named Creeve House, and he is usually called "John of Creeve." John was peripherally involved in the "Poitin Affair" in Ballybay in 1797…. Other than the informer report, the evidence of John's involvement in '98 is sparse. He provided refuge for Samuel Neilson when he escaped the roundup at Bond's Dublin home in March, 1798, fleeing to Ballybay. A search was conducted at John's house "and he [Samuel Neilson] had escaped out of his bed by a back window into an adjoining house. [Madden, R. H., 1842-1846, United Irishmen, 1st Edition,, Series 2, 1:332]. After the rebellion John cared for the Neilson daughters while Samuel was incarcerated in Ft. George, and Samuel visited them their after his release from Ft. George and on his way to exile [Madden, R. H., 1842-1846, United Irishmen, 1st Edition,, Series 2, 1:332

[3] John WILSON. I know nothing about him. There was a Hugh WILSON in the Banishment Act.

[4] John CONNELLAN. A most amazing story is told in Ulster in 98: Episodes and Anecdotes.  Robert M. Young. Belfast. 1893. According to a conversation that the author had with an Andrew Stilly in 1845, who had been involved in the United Irishmen of 1798, Connellan was an apothecary in Dundalk. He “was afterwards sent out as a surgeon on board a convict ship, when the convicts rose, far out at sea, and literally cut Connellan to pieces, and threw the fragments of his body into the sea. They then ran the vessel into France, where they were taken prisoners and branded; but some of them made their escape, retaining, however, on their persons the marks of the branding iron – amongst other, two brothers of the name of Bourne.” Interestingly, the name CAROLAN shows up with much the same description. Extracts from the records of the spy Thomas COLLINS indicate that  at a meeting 28/2/192 John Carolan, apothecary, Carrickmacross, admitted and then 10/5/1793 Mr. Carolan of Carrickmacross, took the “Test”. SOURCE: p. 325  At the Ford of the Birches. Murnane, James H., and Peadar Murnane, 1999. I would assume that the two names represent the same person.

[5] NOTE: Nancy J. Curtin, The United Irishmen: Popular Politics in Ulster and Dublin 1791-1798. Clarendon. 1998 p. 264 gives an account of a May 29, 1798 United Irishmen meeting which mentions Thomas BASHFORD jr., a Belfast shopkeeper, & William CAMPBELL, innkeeper of Armagh. The meeting covered many of the same concerns raised in this meeting. Another source includes the following names under List of Persons included in the Fugitive Bill and Banishment Act: Thomas Gunning BASHFORD; William CAMPBELL (alia McKeevers); John JACKSON; James JACKSON; James KELLY;: Madden, Richard Robert, SOURCE: "The United Irishmen Their Lives And Times". 1916. New York: The Catholic Publication Society of America. Has the names: Thomas Gunning BASHFORD; William CAMPBELL (alia McKeevers); John JACKSON; James JACKSON; James KELLY (no John KELLY);

[6] Mrs. McCAUL. I know nothing, although a couple of sources may come close to a connecton. SOURCE: The Parishes of Kilrea and Tamlaght O‘Crilly. Kernohan, M.A. 1912. McSkimm records the following proceeding at Kilrea - "A wretched vagrant named McCaul, who, a few years after, was transported for stealing cattle, made oath before Rev. John Torrens, that seven persons whom he named were captains in the army of the United Irishmen.”  SOURCE: Ros Davies site: An Elizabeth & Thora McCALL gave evidence re the burning of McKee's farm at Carricknacessagh during United Irishmen Rebellion c. 1798.

[7] John KELLY, Dundalk. In 1798, there was the execution of John Kelly, also known as 'Kelly of Killane' – I doubt this is him.

[8] CAMPBLE, a publican. William CAMPBELL

[9] Thomas Gunning BASHFORD, a “Protestant” (not Presbyterian), Belfast shopkeeper. SOURCE: Madden, Richard Robert, "The United Irishmen Their Lives And Times". 1916. New York: The Catholic Publication Society of America. (NOTE on on-line index gives his middle name as “Cumming” – but viewing a scan of the original, this is not the case.)  A Belfast shopkeeper. SOURCE: (Curtin op cit.)

[10] Mr. CAMPBLE from Derry – This may be a different CAMPBLE than the one who is an innkeeper in Armagh.

[11] DONALDSON. This is most likely William DONALDSON, one of our family members (or it could be one of his brothers). William DONALDSON (1768 -20 Nov 1815) married Barbara BRADFORD (1783 -1865), both are buried at Freeduff. William was chairman and leader of the United Irishmen in Tullyvallen and Tullynaval and attended Freeduff Presbyterian Church. SOURCE: Belfast Newsletter 18 Sep 1797. Armagh Assizes. The Assizes ended the 14th instant at which the following persons were tried before the Right Hon. Lord Yelverton and the Hon. Judge Chamberlaide ... David Lawson, William Donaldson and Arthur Clark were indicted for high treason, but their trials were put off until the next assizes. Belfast Newsletter 30 Mar 1798. SOURCE: Monaghan Assizes. On the 19th instant, the Monaghan Assizes were opened before the Hon. Justice Downes and Baron George, when the following persons were brought to trial ...William Donaldson and Alex Clark also indicted last Assizes for high treason were discharged under the Habeus Corpus Act. ..? Evidently this did not deter William Donaldson from his work and the Court record

shows he was busy the next month. Jul 12, 1798. The court met this day to adjournment and proceeded to the trial of William Craig, Thomas Craig and James Hall, confined by William Barker, Esq., a magistrate, for stealing a gun. William Lowden of Camley, near Newtownhamilton, being duly sworn, says that in Apr 1797 as near as he can recollect, two men came to his father's house, to wit, the prisoners William Craig and James Hall. ..that he was in bed, and his brother came to him and said two men wanted him to join them in the United business, which he declined, and said he would rather quit the country. His brother went out of the house and returned with the two prisoners. The prisoner then asked him where he intended to go and told him he could not go ...that they told him if he did not go with them it would be too late, for the French were in the country and all the King's stores would be seized before 10 o'clock that morning. After that he got up from his bed and put on his clothes. William Craig brought a book to him. ..and swore him a United Irishman. That they made him make a roll of the names of the men they had sworn in that morning, to the number of 14 or 16 men. The prisoner said they were going to return the men to William Donaldson of Cloghog, near Newtownhamilton, as he was their leading man. In Rev. McCombe's Seatholders List is the mention of Elder William Donaldson of near Freeduff, but whose residence was in Cloghoge Townland. He attended Synod 4 times. SOURCE: TGF Patterson transcription: Underneath this stone lieth the remains of William Donaldson of Freeduff who departed this life on the 30th day of November 1815 aged 47 years. Also the body of Barbara his affectionate wife and faithful widow who departed March 31st 1865 aged 82 years. Them also who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

[12] Mr. O’HANLON.

[13] Daniel DEVIT



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