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NAMES: Samuel COULTER (-1851); Mr. J. BURNE AKA John BYRNE; A. FFRENCH, R.M.; E.HILL; Mary COULTER of Shortstone; John Bailie COULTER (1848-); Micahel FARRELL; James DUNNE; Anne M`GUINESS; Richard BAYLEY; Peter WOOD; Dr. John BROWN; Dr. DONALDSON.
Sharon Oddie Brown. December 7, 2008
Thanks to Wendy Jack for this transcription. The footnotes and any errors are mine.


1851 May 7 The Belfast News-Letter (Belfast, Ireland), Wednesday, May 7, 1851

 DUNDALK, MAY, 3, 1851.
- The unfortunate Mr. Samuel Coulter died this morning at one o'clock.  The inquest on his remains was held at three o'clock, P.M., by Mr. J. Burne[2], coroner for the county Louth.  Previous to the jury being sworn, they, accompanied by A. Ffrench, Esq., R.M.[3], and E. Hill[4], Esq., Sub-Inspector, visited the spot where the murder took place.  It was on the road side, a quarter of a mile from his own house, and within view of a number of houses about forty yards distance.  If I except the hour of the day and the nearness of the houses, the spot where he was, not murdered, but cruelly butchered, is just the one for a covert assassin to perpetrate his infamous crime.  The road at each side is completely sheltered by a thick and luxuriant hedge of lofty hawthorn.  At the other side, the marks of persons crouching in the grass were perfectly plain, and from the spot where he was first attacked to where he fought a desperate retreat, is all covered with blood.  The contest between Mr. Coulter and his three murderers must have been a terrible one indeed.  Immediately after viewing the spot, the jury returned to Mr. Coulter's house, and were sworn by the coroner.  Never did I witness such a melancholy sight as presented itself in that house of mourning.  The grief of the widowed wife[5] - the screams of the orphan children[6], contrasted fearfully with the solemn stillness that reigned in the room where the mangled and frightfully butchered deceased lay.  Mr. Coulter was a very powerful man and generally well-liked.  Strange to say, he never went out without arms for the last two years until the day of his murder.
  The first witness examined was a Michael Farrell[7], an in-door servant of Coulter's.  He deposed to having given Mr. Coulter his horse on Friday morning, and to having wished him safe home, to which his master replied, "there's no fear;" witness had no motive in wishing his master "safe home;" he did it before, but not generally; knew from a man named Dunne[8] that a man was hurted on the road; went up and found it was his master; before he heard the man was hurted, met a woman named M'Guiness;[9] she bid him the time of day, but said no more; witness heard no shot.
  To Mr. FFRENCH, R.M. - If Anne M'Guinness swears she told witness a man was killed, or that she asked him any questions about his master, she'd swear a lie.
  To Mr. HILL - Was cutting furze by the road side when Anne saluted him; that was about a quarter of a mile from the murder.
  Anne M'Guinness, a respectable-looking woman, was next sworn.  She deposed to have heard a shot near the smith's forge, on her way to Dundalk; she saw three men running away, and a horse, which she knew to be Mr. Coulter's, running also; met a little boy with an ass; he asked was there any police or clergymen near, as a man was murdered above there, and the three men running were the men that did it; witness then went down a bit, and saw last witness inside the ditch; asked him had Mr. Coulter gone to the fair of Crossmaglen; he said yes; to another question of hers said he (Mr. Coulter) had time to have passed the Cross; she said "Thank God, it can't be him is murdered above there, though 'tis his horse."  To this witness Michael Farrell replied - "Oh, no! he had time to pass; go on and say no more; 'tis best for you."
  The last witness (Farrell) was brought in again and confronted with Anne M'Guinness, when she again repeated in his presence her conversation with him, all of which he denied.
  Witness (in continuation) - Went down to a field where men were working; on her way met a man of Mr. Richard Bayley's[10], named Peter Wood[11]; told him what she saw and heard; he said nothing, but took his way on to Dundalk; told the men in the field also, and they ran up and found it was Mr. Coulter.
  Drs. Brown[12] and Donaldson[13] were sworn, and deposed to having made a post mortem examination; they found eighteen wounds on the head and one on the neck, making in all nineteen; there were also some contusions on the knees; the skull was fractured, and driven in about half an inch on the brain, and those two wounds were, of themselves, sufficient to have caused death; the wounds were inflicted with a blunt instrument; found no traces of a gunshot wound.
  The CORONER here (after consulting with the resident magistrate, and Mr. Hill, sub-inspector, intimated his intention of adjourning the inquest till Tuesday, and he would, in the mean time, commit Farrell to jail.
  It is expected that some important revelations will be made throwing light on this dreadful tragedy, and showing the fearful extent to which the Ribbon system has progressed in this county.
  Some suspected parties are in custody[14], and one all but identified as one of the three men who murdered Mr. Coulter. - Saunders.


[1] 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).

[2] Mr. J. BURNE. This is probably John BYRNE. A John BYRNE was a tobacconist in Dundalk. A John BYRNE owned and leased lands  in Crossabeagh, Parish of Louth There was also a solicitor P.J BYRNE mentioned in Tempest Jubilee 1909 edition. A T.J. BYRNE was secretary of the racecourse.

[3] A. FFRENCH. R.M. There was an Anthony Ffrench, Esq., of Colemanstown, county of Galway. SOURCE: Ballina Chronicle, November 7, 1849. I am guessing that R.M. stands for “Royal Marines”.

[4] E. HILL. I wonder if he was the Edward HILL who was a local landlord.

[5] Mary COULTER nèe BAILIE (married on March 24, 1846 at Barronstown, Co. Louth). Mary COULTER was registered on the Griffiths Valuation in 1854 as leasing 127 acres from Robert BAYLEY and also owning a modest house and garden valued at £0.10.0. 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).

[6] One of the children was John Bailie COULTER who was baptised 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] Michael FARRELL.

[8] James DUNNE


[10] Richard BAYLEY. I suspect he is a member of the BAILIE or BAILLIE family who had married into the COULTERs (possibly more than once). NOTE: A Robert BAYLEY resided in a house and lands at Shortstone 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).

[11] Peter WOOD. I wonder if he was related to Dr. James WOODS, the Gaelic scholar (whose father was also named Peter WOODS. This Peter WOODS (1721- 1778) and held lands at Loughross in 1766 and was buried in Creggan Churchyard . SOURCE: The Loughross Gaelic Scholar. NOTE: A Thomas WOODS leased lands at Mounthill from Edward HILL in 1854 in partnership with James & Thomas KIRK and Owen M’ARDLE.

[12] Dr. John BROWN. He died before 1909. SOURCE: Tempest Jubilee Annual 1909 p82: Dr. John Browne, M.D., was a leading physician in Dundalk for many years, and was untiring and unceasing in his desire to benefit all classes, socially, morally, mentally and physically. He was the first Secretary of the original Mechanics' Institute formed in 1844, and when in 1857 it was merged into the Free Public Library, he still continued to act as Secretary, which office he filled till he resigned in 1883. Dr Browne, in conjunction with Dr. Laurence Martin, was in 1845 appointed Medical Officer of the Dundalk Dispensary, and during the visitation of cholera, and also the famine period, both were unremitting in their attention to the poor and the afflicted; afflicted ; and it was at that time Dr. Martin—then a young man of 32—was stricken with typhus fever, and died in 1847. Dr. Browne lived for many years after, and was the recipient of a handsome presentation in acknowledgment of his philanthropic efforts during residence in Dundalk. On his retirement he went to reside in Northampton with his daughter, Mrs. Thursfield, where he died, at the advanced age of 80. It was due to his untiring and arduous work that the town of Dundalk has had an adequate chronicle, " D'Alton's History of Dundalk," compiled and published. Dr. Browne was Secretary of the Committee which had charge of the protracted endeavours to raise funds for the publication. We have gone over the original papers and letters to Mr. D'Alton, Mr. O'Flanagan, his helper, and to innumerable residents in the County and elsewhere. The fact that it was over ten years from Dr. Browne s first mooting of the project till the book was issued will give some idea of the doggedness with which he stuck to his often disheartening task. As a sample of his constant interest and help in all directions, it may be recalled that he once raised a considerable sum by subscriptions to send a young Dundalk man named McCann to Dublin to study drawing and painting.


[14] See the names in the June 4, 1851 edition of The Belfast Newsletter.



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