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NAMES: Samuel COULTER of Shortstone, parish of Roche, Co. Louth; Dr. William POLLOCK of Annaghvaghy; Mr. A. FRENCH AKA FFRENCH R.M. Esq.; John J. BIGGAR; Patrick M'KIEVER of Silverbridge; Owen MURPHY of Carnally; Michael CAMPBELL of Glassdrummond; Patrick M'CANN of Cariff.
Sharon Oddie Brown. December 8, 2008

Thanks to Wendy Jack for the transcription of this article. The footnotes come from me thinking out loud, working from hunches and incomplete data - and there may be errors. If you find any, please let me know. I will correct them ASAP.


Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper (London, England), Sunday, May 11, 1851; Issue 442

The Dundalk Advertiser of Saturday last has the following account of a most atrocious outrage, which resulted in the death of the victim:-
  "At one o'clock on yesterday the inhabitants of Dundalk were thrown into a state of great excitement by a report that a murder had been perpetrated in this neighbourhood.  On hearing the report we instantly repaired to the place assigned as the locality of the outrage - namely, Shortstone[1], which is situated about three miles of this town on the road leading to Crossmaglen.  Stretched on a pallet in his parlour we beheld the individual upon whose life a murderous attempt had been made a few hours before.  His name is Samuel Coulter[2].  He held a farm of about 100 acres of land.  His head presented the most dreadful appearance which the eye could witness.  On one side it was bruised in, and yielded to the slightest pressure, while all over, and especially in the back region, it was covered with deep wounds, which continued to drip blood.  On the other parts of the body there were no marks of violence discernable.  Several of the wounds were evidently inflicted by a bayonet; it would be difficult to say how the remainder of them were inflicted.  One of the ears was nearly torn away.  The face was untouched.  Dr. Pollock[3] was in attendance, and had dressed the head; but human aid was then manifestly of no avail, and every hour Mr. Coulter was expected to breathe his last.  He was quite insensible, nor did he speak a word which could afford a clue to the perpetrators of this fearful outrage.  The following particulars we were enabled to gather from parties on the spot:-
  "About nine o'clock on Friday (yesterday) morning, Mr. Coulter left his residence, on horseback, for the fair of Crossmaglen, having in his possession the sum of 9l.  Shortly afterwards an alarm was given that he was dead on the road.  Some persons having proceeded in the direction of Crossmaglen, he was found in a state of insensibility lying upon a stone ditch.  The gap was loosely built with large stones, and he appeared to be leaning across the stones with his head to the field and his feet towards the road, as if he had been apparently dragged into that position.  It would appear that the first attack was made about thirty yards from this spot, and in a place which we shall presently describe.  The road between both places was sprinkled with blood, and in such a manner as if the person from whom it had come staggered along.  A struggle appeared to have taken place on the scene of the first attack, and it would seem that Mr. Coulter made an attempt to return home, but that he was overpowered in the place where he was found.  On examining the back of the hedge near this spot, traces were discovered as if two persons had been secreted there.  It would appear as if two parties had lain in wait for him, one in each of the places alluded to, and that, having escaped from the first attack, he fell under their united forces at the place where he lay.  Here the stones, some of which had rolled into the field, were quite covered with blood, and upon one of them was some hair.  A brass pistol and an old bayonet were found here, the one broken in the stock, as if it had been used in striking the victim; the other was covered with blood.  There was also found the lock of a gun and a leaden bullet.  The place of the attack was about a mile from Mr. Coulter's house, and where the road has a lonely appearance.[4]  On both sides there are high thorn hedges, and on the side where the attach was made the hedge is backed with large whin bushes.  On a rising ground at about two hundred yards, there stand two houses; and a short distance further is a clump of cabins.  Owing to a bend in the road there would be difficulty in a person at the first house seeing what took place, but shouting could easily have been heard.  One fact is particularly deserving of notice - his money was not touched.  As far as we have been able to learn, this outrage had its origin in an agrarian cause.  Mr. Coulter was agent to some property in the neighbourhood, and some time ago he served notices to quit on some of the tenantry[5].  He was a married man, and had two children[6].  Mr. French, R.M.[7], and Mr. Bigger, J.P.[8], with a party of police, under the command of Sub-Inspector Hill[9], were quickly on the scene of the outrage."
  The Dundalk Democrat of Monday announces that the brutal attack on Mr. Coulter had terminated fatally.  It was evident from the first that no medical skill could be of any service, as the wounds were mortal, and after suffering great agony he expired at three o'clock Saturday morning.  The ill-fated man is stated to have given evidence in a number of ejectment cases at the last Ballybot quarter sessions[10], where ejectment decrees were obtained, and which, it is said, were expected to be put into force in a few days.  Four persons[11] have been arrested on suspicion, and remain in custody pending the issue of the coroner's inquest.
  The following verdict has since been returned by the coroner's jury that sat to inquire into the cause of the death of Mr. S. Coulter:- "We find that the deceased Samuel Coulter came by his death early on the morning of the 3rd inst., at about the hour of two o'clock, in consequence of severe fractures of the skull, inflicted by some person or persons unknown, on the road leading from Dundalk to Crossmaglen, in the morning of Friday, the 2nd of May last."  The government has offered a reward of 100l. for the conviction of the murderers[12] of this unfortunate gentleman.


[1] Shortstone, Parish of Roche, Co. Louth. There actually two townlands: Shortstone East and Shortstone West. In the 1854 Griffiths Valuation, a Mary COULTER nèe BAILIE was resident at Shortstone West. The value of the house & buildings leased by Mary COULTER were valued at £12.0.0 and the land included 127.0.21 acres. It was leased from Robert BAYLEY (which may be the same BAILIE family that had family ties). NOTE: Since this Robert BAYLEY resided in a house and lands valued at £206.0.0, it is likely that he was the same Robert BAILIE who had a will probated in 1895 at age 87 (hence born 1808) with effects of £288.3s. His will was probated by Robert Ellis BAILIE, who I suspect was the eldest son of Rev. John BAILIE of Clonaleenan – based on Kane graveyard records. (I still need to put this together).

[2] Samuel COULTER, d. May 3, 1851. He married Mary BAILIE on March 24, 1846 at Barronstown, Co. Louth. A son, John Bailie COULTER, was baptised at Creggan Church June 26, 1848. SOURCE: IGI & Creggan Church records. I do not yet know where he fits into the family tree, but there is no doubt that he does (his connection to Creggan Church is one of the clues).

[3] Dr. William POLLOCK. Possible family relations include the following:

·         A Dr. William POLLOCK leased a dispensing house in Annaghvaghy from Samuel BRADFORD.  

·         In a letter dated November 7th, 1883 from Eliza Jackson to son Thomas: Cousin Sam has got a tenant for Cavananore house and gardens at last. Dr Wilson the Dispensary Dr who is married to Miss [Pollock?] is said to be giving him £30 a year for them. How long he will stay there remains to be seen. He has hitherto been living with Charles [Pollock]; so he cannot but know all about the place. I have heard nothing since, about the sale of Sam’s land; but we still are on the alert; if anything should transpire.

·         A James POLLACK married a Mary COULTER at Creggan Church, Jan 9, 1816. A James POLLOCK shows up in the 1854 Griffiths Valuation with a house in Glassdrummond – the same place where one of the accused hailed from.

[4] I need to find an ordnance survey map to be able to reconstruct exactly where this happened. The descriptions in Griffiths give some clues SEE: COULTERs in Griffiths

[5] I do not yet know who was served with notices to quit. Apparently, after his murder, the rents were decreased. SOURCE: 1852 Report of Select Committee on Outrages,

[6] One of the children was John Bailie COULTER. He was baptized at Creggan Church on June 26, 1848. This would make him just about five years old at the time of his father’s death.

[7] Mr. FRENCH is also referred to in another article as Mr. A. Ffrench, R.M. Esq.

[8] John J. BIGGER, a local landlord with holdings in the region. He lived at Falmore House, Parish of Roche, married Charlotte COURTENAY- sometime after the death of her first husband in 1832 and he died in 1865.

[9] Sub-Inspector E. HILL. I don’t know if he was related to a local landlord, Edward HILL.

[10] Does anyone know how to access the records of the Ballybot sessions? Are they in news records?

[11] The four people arrested were:

·         Patrick M'KIEVER, of Silverbridge, probably the townland of Ummeracam (Johnston), Parish of Creggan. I could find no record of him leasing land in 1854.

·         Owen MURPHY, of Carnally, Parish of Creggan. I could find no record of him leasing land in 1854.

·         Michael CAMPBELL, of Glassdrummond, probably in the Parish of Killevy, Co. Armagh. I could find no record of him leasing land in 1854.

o    In the 1852 Report of Select Committee on Outrages, p666. Samuel COULTER received a threatening letter from a Mr. Campbell. This evidence was given by James O’CALLAGHAN, a Roman Catholic Justice of the Peace who owned property just outside Crossmaglen. According to this evidence, Mr. Campbell had said that he “would not, as a clergyman, administer sacraments to a man in the extremity of death who he conceived let his land too dear”. He also alleged that “There can be no peace in the country till this system is extinguished; it greatly affects the value of the landed property”.

·         Patrick M'CANN, of Cariff, possibly Carrive, Parish of Forkill, Co. Armagh.  They are all small farmers, and lived in the county of Armagh. His name shows up in the Townland of Carrive with a lease for 11 acres and a house valued at 0.15.0 from Turner A. MACAN.

[12] Was there a conviction? I suspect not. According to the 1852 Report of Select Committee on Outrages there had been no convictions of a capital nature relating to agrarian unrest since 1841.



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