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NAMES: William Hill of Balls Mill, Glassdrummon, Co. Louth; Thomas POWELL; OTHER PLACES: Mullyash (probably Mullaghduff?).
Sharon Oddie Brown. September 16, 2009
Updated March 21, 2010
Updated May 21, 2011 Footnote on parentage of Esther COULTER.

1841 Mar 30

The Newry Telegraph



Further particulars regarding the attempt to assassinate Mr. William HILL[1] of Balls-Mill[2]. Another man fired at, and his horse killed under him.


On Friday the 19th instant, it rained heavily till about one o'clock. About two hours after the rain had ceased half past 3:00 PM, Mr. HILL had determined to go out to look at some ground, to which his manservant was drawing manure; and the evening being excessively cold, he put on two very heavy cloaks, and over both a Macintosh over all. Thus dressed, he went to the field, which is about 16 or 20 perches from the village. The field itself, where Mr. Hill was standing, is the highest ground thereabouts. He had not been there any length of time, when a man came up within four or 5 yards, and said to him, “this is a rather soft day”. Mr. Hill replied “yes it is”. The man next said to him “oh, look at the chimney on fire” (the chimney of the police Barrack about a quarter of a mile distant was really on fire). Mr. HILL turned round to look at the fire; his back was then to the man who stepped up and laid the muzzle of a pistol to his back, directly opposite to his kidneys and fired off. The pistol was charged with slugs. They did not spread more than 6 inches; and they carried fragments of the coats and cloaks into his body. The slugs did not penetrate so deeply as to take away life. It was most providential that HILL had on such a quantity of clothes, else the contents of the pistol would have lodged in the kidneys and intestines.

It is a most deplorable and melancholy state of society when an assassin can walk quietly off through populous neighbourhood, such as this, without showing the least appearance of dread. In the same way, the murderers of Mr. POWELL[3], in the same neighbourhood, came to his door, asked for him, and hoped he was well, and entered into familiar conversation with him. This is the quiet and friendly way in which the Ribbonmen set about their murderous designs.

We are enabled to add, from good authority, that according to a report, believed to be well authenticated, three or four days subsequent to Mr. HILL's attempted murder, a land surveyor were shot at, in the open day, between Cullyhanna and Mullyash[4], in the Barony of Upper Fews. The sharpshooter missed them, but killed the horse on which he was riding at the time.

[1] William HILL(1770-1852) of Balls Mill in the County of Armagh gent. Initially, I had thought that his wife was Esther COULTER, and that she was probably the Esther COULTER, daughter of John COULTER and Jane BARTLEY.Recently, I found a new clue in the 1873 will of Launcelot COULTER, who names a sister, Esther COULTER. She seems to be a much better fit. The fact that she was a COULTER comes from an 1842 Deed: otherwise COULTER of Balls Mill aforesaid the wife of the said William HILL.

·         He had a son: SOURCE: PRONI Will Abstracts: The Will (with one Codicil) of John William Hill late of Ballsmill County Armagh Farmer deceased who died 2 May 1875 at same place was proved at Armagh by the oath of Esther Hill of Ballsmill Widow the sole Executrix.

·         In 1832, a William HILL had a freehold at Ednasbarrow from Charles EASTWOOD aand was resident at Ballsmill.

·         In 1823, a William HILL held a freehold at Tullydonnell and was resident at Ballsmill.

·         William HILL is in the 1828 Tithe records.

  • In 1824, a William HILL held a freehold at Tullydonnell for the lives of William and Edward HILL and was resident at Ballsmill.

[2] Balls Mill is just south of the R177, about 7km north-west of Dundalk. It is also just slightly north of a clutch of townlands where many of the COULTERs were known to reside (Cavananore, Shortstone, Annaghavackey and so on). It is on Ballsmill Road (on some maps – otherwise Glassdrumman Rd on other maps) and is in the Parish of Glassdrumman  SEE: http://www.devlin-family.com/timelineglassdrummond.htm 

Ballsmill (Baile na gCléireach) Armagh. Ballinaglera 1838. ‘Ball's mill’. Thomas Ball was granted land here in the 17th cent. The Irish name means ‘townland of the clerics’. SOURCE: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O40-Ballsmill.html

[3] Thomas POWELL (?-1841) was an “agriculturalist” who was hired by William QUINN to put in drainage on lands at Lough Ross in the townland of Tullyard (lands that QUINN had inherited from an aunt who died in 1840). POWELL received a threatening letter days before his murder. It was likely connected with the fact that QUINN, the landlord, was displacing some tenants. QUINN alleged that he was giving them alternate and comparable land, but this is likely a generous estimate of what was on offer. For the small cottiers, such acts by landlords were to them literally a matter of life and death. Moved off their farms, they would die. As a consequence, Thomas POWELL was murdered January 2, 1841. SOURCE: Seanchas Ard Mhacha. Vol. 10 No. 2 pp380-416. Agrarian Disturbances around Crossmaglen, 1835-1855. Part III. Kevin McMahon and Thomas McKeown. (NOTE: This series of articles is well worth reading!).

[4] Mullyash - Possibly Mullaghduff in the Parish of Newtownhamilton.



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