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The murder of Samuel COULTER (1810-1851) of Shortstone.
Sharon Oddie Brown. September 28, 2014.


1851 May 5

The Belfast News-Letter (Belfast, Ireland), Monday, May 5, 1851; Issue 11769
WE feel doubtful whether we should not head this paragraph "murder," as, in all probability, the unfortunate man, whom we saw a few hours ago weltering in his blood, has now ceased to exist.  The hour at which we go to press compels us to be brief, and besides the general circumstances connected with the outrage we are about to relate, are of that nature upon which it would be difficult to speak with certainty at present.  At one o'clock on Friday, 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.  The report, though not strictly accurate, proved to be but too near the truth.  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 one hundred 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 morning, Mr. Coulter left his residence, on horseback, for the fair of Crossmaglen, having in his possession the sum of nine pounds.  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.  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.  He was a married man, and had two children.  Mr. French, R.M., and Mr. Bigger, J.P., with a party of police, under the command of Sub-Inspector Hill, were quickly on the scene of the outrage. - Louth Advertiser.
  A correspondent of the Daily Express, writing from Dundalk on Friday evening, at eight o'clock, says -
  "The unfortunate gentleman received, in his struggle for life, five bayonet wounds.  Hope exists no longer, and it is his medical man's opinion that he cannot live an hour longer.  Circumstances have transpired to lead to the probability of the discovery of the assassins."










[1] Shortstone, Parish of Roche, Co. Louth. There actually two townlands: Shortstone East and Shortstone West. In the 1854 Griffiths Valuation, a Mary COULTER (possibly the widow) 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).

[2] Samuel COULTER (1810-1851)

[3] Dr. William POLLOCK



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