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THE PRESS REACTION TO THE MANCHESTER EXECUTIONS OF THE FENIANS
THESE are extracts
THE CULPRITS' ANTECEDENTS
contemporary states that Allen was a native of Bandon, in the
O'Brien, alias Gould, was the most active and intelligent man engaged in the outrage. He was well built, fairly educated, and by birth and sympathy an Irish American. It is believed that he had no relations in this country, and few friends. The only person who attempted to visit him in prison was the witness Miss Flannigan, who was called to prove an alibi for him. It will be remembered that in her cross-examination Miss Flannigan denied having any acquaintance with Gould: her subsequent conduct however, leads to the supposition that she knew him very well, for when she was refused admission to the prison, as not being related to the convict, she expressed her disappointment very keenly. O'Brien had had some military experience as a sergeant in the same regiment as Colonel Kelly in the United States army, and he was best known amongst the Fenians as Captain O'Brien. He is known to have been her last autumn, in Dublin and Liverpool, where he associated with Fenians; and at the last winter assizes in Liverpool he was tried, with two or three others, on a charge of having in his possession a number of rifles belonging to the Government. The rifles had been found in a cellar, with three boxes of phosphorus, one of the principal constituents of Greek or Fenian fire. Gould and his companions were, on that occasion, acquitted. Since that time he has frequently travelled between England and Ireland on Fenian business, and from the information that can now be gathered of him, he has supposed to have been a very active organiser of Fenian circles.
As to Larkin, there can be little doubt that he was the victim of such men as O'Brien. Of the five men who convicted he was the only married man, and till within the last year or two there is reason to believe that he behaved like a respectable working man. He had a wife and four children, and for three or four years had lived in one street in Manchester, carrying on the business of an operative tailor. Recently he became an active Fenian and in one of the Manchester circles he acted as a collector of subscriptions. He had not done much work for several months, and a few weeks ago, just before his apprehension, he was on the out-door relief of the Chorlton guardians.
Calcraft left the New Bailey at 20 minutes past 11 o'clock, in a cab, from the front entrance to the prison. Only about half a dozen persons witnessed his departure. He went to London-road Station, and left by the train at noon.
THE SALFORD SPECIAL CONSTABLES
After the bodies had been cut down the special constables were marched to the square in front of the Salford Town-hall, and tickets were delivered to each man stating that he had been on duty. After three cheers had been given for the mayor, the corporation, and the specials, the Mayor (H. D. Pochin Esq.) addressed the crowd as follows: "Before you go away, I cannot but tell you how very much obliged to you, the corporation of Salford are for your services. I have closely watched your conduct as special constables, and have been immensely pleased with admirable behaviour of every one of you. I don't believe there has been one amongst you who has in any way misconducted himself, and the registry of special constables for the borough will be regarded by the corporation with great satisfaction, knowing that they have such a body of men in Salford to call to their assistance in times of need. (Loud cheers) For my own part, if your trial had to be fought again, I dare go with you to fight that battle. (Applause.) Talk about the peace of Salford being disturbed-it will never be disturbed while we have a class of men like you, for you have all rendered an immense service in the cause of public peace. We have gentlemen here who have acted with the regular army of this country, and they say that the working men under their charge have given them the greatest possible satisfaction, and that they never were connected with men who behaved themselves better, or were more competent to discharge the duties you have had to perform. (Applause.) you have for several hours been on service, and I do not intend to keep you here. I thank you most heartily in my own name, and in the name of the corporation, for the assistance you have rendered to us this day." (Cheers.)-The Mayor afterwards met the captains over special the special constables in his parlour, and expressed to them his thanks for the very efficient and valuable services they had rendered to the corporation.-Votes of thanks, proposed by Lieutenant-Colonel BARRATT and seconded by Captain WESTON, were passed to the Mayor and to Captain Sylvester, the chief constable.
FENIAN DEMONSTRATIONS IN MANCHESTER
PROCESSION TO THE HOUSES OF MRS. ALLEN AND MRS. LARKIN
Yesterday afternoon vast numbers of Irish sympathisers with the relatives of Allen and Larkin assembled together at the New Cross, at the top of Oldham-street, where they conversed for a considerable time respecting the execution on the previous day. Towards five o'clock the number of persons present is said to have been about five thousand. They flocked there from all parts of Manchester, but more particularly from the neighbourhood of Rochdale-road, Shudehill, and Ancoats. The men were all very respectably attired, and conducted themselves with the greatest decorum. The crowd was nearly half composed of women and young girls, who mostly wore green ribbons on their bonnets. Shortly before five o'clock a drum and fife band, with muffled kettle-drum arrived, and taking up position facing Swan-street, the crowd formed in procession six and eight abreast, and marched slowly towards the house in Rochdale-road where Mrs. Allen is lodging, the band playing on the way, the "Dead March in Saul." On arriving at the house, we understand that a number of those in the procession visited Mrs. Allen, consoled with her on her loss, and exhorted her to bear up under the affliction. The procession then retraced its steps, and on re-arriving at the New Cross, where a number of others joined, marched through Oldham-street, along Piccadilly, Portland-street, Chepstow-street, Gt. Bridgewater-street, and City-road, to Eliza-street, where the mother and widow of Larkin reside. In passing by the house the band continued to play the "Dead March" and many of the persons in the procession were affected by tears. A number of women as they passed the house sobbed violently, and many expressions of indignation were uttered by the men as they saw the widow and mother of Larkin at the window. No interview was sought by any of them with Mrs. Larkin, as it was stated that she was in a very desponding and sorrowful condition. The procession at this time had been increased by various accessions of sympathisers from the neighbourhood of City-road and the total number was estimated at from 5,000 to 10,000 persons, and they occupied upwards of a quarter of an hour in passing the house. On arriving at Great Jackson-street, not far from St Wilfrid's Roman Catholic Church, the procession dispersed in a very orderly manner. At the New Cross a large number of men who composed the procession collected until a late hour last evening, during which time the trials of the men, their executions, and the state of Ireland were discussed. The only facts which in any way gave reason for alarm were on the part of a few of the women, who on several occasions on seeing some of the soldiers gave vent to their indignation in language of the strongest character, vowing that revenge would be taken for the executions carried out on Saturday morning. The soldiers and police, who were also taunted, bore the remarks with great equanimity, and passed on in many cases showing the utmost forbearance to those who used such threats. In explanation of the fact that many of the women wore green ribbons on their bonnets, we have heard it stated that it was at the request of Allen, who had urged upon his mother that as died for the "green isle," it would be unbecoming to his testimony to wear any marks of mourning, but he expressed a hope that they would adopt the usual [ ] colour of his native land in remembrance of him.
See the Manchester collection at Find My Past
In Liverpool the greatest anxiety was manifested the first thing on Sunday morning as to the fate of the condemned Fenians, and when special editions on the newspapers containing accounts of the execution appeared, they were eagerly bought up. This excitement continued throughout the day, and the newspaper offices were besieged. The fate of the murderers of Sergeant Brett was the topic of conversation everywhere in Liverpool, probably even to a greater extent than in Manchester itself. A group of working men who were discharging timber at a new building, were overheard speaking of the affair, and the effect it would have upon the Fenian body. One said, "It will teach them there are laws in England at any rate." Another said, "I wish I had been their executioner; I'd have it done sharp." This seemed to be elicited by some remark of a passing Irishman. The precautions against mischief were continued on Saturday and last night at the docks, warehouse and public establishments.
LIVERPOOL, SUNDAY NIGHT.
Liverpool quite tranquil even in Irish quarters of the town.
FENIAN DEMONSTRATION AT BIRMINGHAM
A "funeral procession" took place in Birmingham yesterday afternoon. About 2,000 persons joined in the demonstration; but all passed off remarkably quietly.
Another account from our Birmingham correspondent received per telegram last night say: Saturday passed without disturbance. The Irish paraded the town to-day, and held a meeting. The government was denounced. Dr Suckling was attacked and wounded. This afternoon six thousand Irishmen proceeded to the Roman Catholic cemetery in procession. They wore green decorations. An impressive funeral service was held. The people knelt on the ground bareheaded, and offered up prayers for the dead Fenians. To-night the town is quiet.
FENIAN DEMONSTRATIONS AT SHEFFIELD
Shortly after midnight, or early on Sunday morning, an Irish row, which at one time threatened to prove rather serious, occurred in Peacroft, Sheffield. In a crowd of Irishmen some remarks made by Orangemen which were unpalatable to the Fenian sympathisers. Recourse was had to blows, and many of the mob armed themselves with pokers, life preservers and other weapons. A regular battle ensued, but the timely arrival of Inspector Rodgers and a pose of police dispersed the combatants; the only damage being a few broken heads and one or two rather severe cuts.
FENIAN PROCESSION IN LONDON YESTERDAY
A funeral procession in honour of the Fenians executed at Manchester took place here to-day. Previous to starting, Mr. Finlen addressed the meeting at Clerkenwell Green. He said they had met for a solemn purpose, and their proceedings should be fit for the occasion. Mr. O'Callaghan moved an amendment, "That as friends of the executed men had requested the demonstration should not take place, and the catholic clergy disapproved of it, the procession should be abandoned." The amendment, however, was not received by the chairman, and those present being of the opinion that the procession should take place, the cortege was formed. It was preceded by a banner bearing the following inscription, "Man's inhumanity to man makes thousands mourn." A small band of drums and fifes followed playing sacred music.
No opposition was offered by the authorities, and the procession passed along Fleet-street, the Strand, Pall-mall, St. James's-street, Piccadilly, and entered the Park. It numbered about 2,000, mostly working men (some with female friends), the great majority being, of course, Irish. Another contingent of about 1,000, which had already met in the Park, went to receive the Clerkenwell division. These fell in, and altogether about 3,000 persons took part in the demonstration. There was the usual large sprinkling of lookers-on attracted by curiosity, including many members of parliament. Finlen delivered a "funeral oration." He said they were assembled to recognise the worth of the executed men, and the integrity of the cause for which they suffered. He trusted their memories would be for ever cherished, and their wives and children recollected. He hoped, also, that by the death of those heroes the union of English, Irish, and Scotch would be cemented for the regeneration of these islands and the elevation of the people. A hymn was then chanted, and the people quietly dispersed.
Subsequently another large gathering took place and very strong language was used, one speaker advocating republicanism. No police were present, but large numbers were in reserve. Another meeting is announced for this evening at eight o'clock, at Clerkenwell Green.
A meeting of those who took part in the funeral procession this afternoon, met to-night on Clerkenwell-green, Mr. McSweaney presided, and the speakers were Mr. Finlen, who delivered the funeral oration at Hyde Park to-day, and Mr. Bligh (who presided at the second meeting), Mr. Campbell, and Mr. Owen. The general tenor of the speeches were the same as that adopted in the afternoon. It was declared that the Tories were stupid and cruel, and that a union of English and Irish workmen would be accelerated by the deaths of the Fenian martyrs. There were about 1,200 or 1,500 persons present. The proceedings lacked the enthusiasm which was displayed at the meeting held in the earlier part of the day.
The Sunday Gazette, while strangely contending that the crime for which Allen, Gould, and Larkin suffered was a political offence, yet holds that their execution was necessary. The Gazette says:-
A calm consideration, we venture to think, will only show that the Government decided rightly in declining to interfere with the execution of Allen, Larkin, and Gould. Once it became apparent that there were no legal reasons for affecting the validity of the conviction, the only subject for the consideration of the Queen's advisors was the general question as to the efficiency of the punishment of death as a deterrent. So long as that most serious and effective warnings against crime, the authorities were bound to carry it out in this case. It would be but mistaken mercy to abstain from a step likely to bring the present state of things to an end. It would be cruel to the well-disposed subjects of the Queen, who live in the alarm of these Fenian doings. It would be especially cruel to those public servants who have their lives threatened and sometimes taken for discharging their duty with fidelity and zeal. It is no time to trifle with the general interests. Matters have come to a serious pass when the prestige of authority is destroyed. A single policeman, by that prestige, can overcome a crowd which, physically, it would take fifty to deal with. He does so because he is not measured by his strength as compared with that of other men, but because of the reflection that the whole British empire is behind him ready to support or avenge him; he is but the advance guard of the executive, and the moment that executive falters in its support, he loses his moral power and becomes an individual in a blue coat and helmet. Any weakness in dealing with those who killed Brett would have had the worst results; and, much as we make shrink the sight of a public execution in England upon political grounds, little right as we, who pat other people's rebel on the back, have to be too severe on our own, we fear the scene of yesterday cannot be thought of but as a sad necessity. Let us hope that the sacrifice will not be altogether useless, and that from this day forward the insane and and accursed demon of Fenianism will become quelled.
The Observer says:-
The execution of the three unfortunate men who were hanged at Manchester yesterday morning has affected people very differently. Those who sympathise with them in their political object consider them as martyrs whose blood was shed in the holiest of cause; those who think that Ireland has been sadly misgoverned believe that this country is greatly to blame for such occurrences as the rescue of Deasey and Kelly. They consider, however, that the killing of a policeman required the execution of the man who killed him; and if they feel any regret, it is that others who did not directly take part in that act should have also suffered death. There are many, probably the great majority in this country, who are highly satisfied that the treasonable plots of the Fenians should have met with such vigour, and that so fair a occasion as the murder of a policeman in the discharge of his duty should have been taken advantage of by Government to vindicate the case of order. It must be admitted, whatever view may be taken of the late executions, that Her Majesty's Government has acted with decision in this matter, and not suffered itself to be intimidated from doing what it considered to be its duty. The arrangements for the execution at Manchester were so complete as to have cowed the sympathisers with the condemned. No political execution has hitherto taken place in the reign of our Queen: we use the word political because we cannot consider that the two men who did not attack the murdered man suffered in any other cause. It may be that some political offences should be with death, and if so undoubtedly Gould and Larkin deserved their fate. We trust, however, that henceforth the punishment of death will be strictly reserved for those who kill their fellow men, and that indictments for treason-felony, or misdemeanours, as the case may be, will be considered sufficient in cases where death has not ensued from the acts of those who may use violence in order to gain political ends. Most people think there was no real distinction in the three cases. There are others, whose opinions we share, who think differently.
"PURRING" THE FENIANS. "The Bolton Chronicle of Saturday reports: Yesterday (Friday) morning his worship the Mayor and magistrates attended at the Magistrates'-room and Coroner's-court to swear in special constables. The total number sworn was 1022, and the proceedings occupied from nine in the morning until half-past five in the afternoon.-The Mayor informed the special constables that staves would be furnished them should their services be required, and the bench had every confidence that they would do their duty in the preservation of peace and the protection of property, Much amusement was caused by one Boltonian exclaiming, "Staves; we'll purr 'em."
Dublin correspondents state that the educated classes were not disappointed by the resolve of the Government to carry out the extreme sentence on the condemned men at Manchester. It was felt that so daring an outrage as that which resulted in the death of Sergeant Brett left Her Majesty's advisors no choice. The Liberal and Roman Catholic journals generally have taken this view, as well as the Protestant and Conservative portions of the press. In the sentiments of the latter the crime of Allen and his comrades excites a resentment probably unknown in England. The only exceptions to the general feeling are shown by journals who have scarcely concealed their sympathy with the Fenian movement, such as the Dublin Evening Post and the Cork Examiner. These persist in overlooking the murder, and adding Allen, Larkin, and Gould to the list of martyrs for their country.
THE MARCHIONESS OF QUEENSBURY AND THE FENIANS. The Dowager Marchioness of Queensbury has sent £300 towards a fund for the maintenance of the wife and children of Larkin, one of the men sentence to death for the recent murder in Manchester, and £100 for the relatives of the other convicts It would be hard, indeed, if the family of even a murderer were to be allowed, in any civilised country, to perish through the crimes of its head, but so large a contribution betokens, we fear, something more than sympathy for widow and her fatherless children. If he ladyship has so much money to spare, and thinks that the care of widows and children is her speciality, we would recommend, as suitable objects of her bounty, the widow and children of Police-sergeant Brett, who was murdered by Larkin and his associates, and who, for refusing to be a traitor to his trust, was shot, in broad daylight, in a crowded thoroughfare in Manchester, as mercilessly as if he had been a dog.-Preston Chronicle.
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Last update: 15th February 2017