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Tyrone Assizes, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, July 1846

Extracted from the Londonderry Standard, July 24, 1846
Transcribed, Compiled and Submitted by
Len Swindley, Melbourne, Australia

TUESDAY, July 21

This morning, the Hon. Justice TORRENS took his seat in the Crown Court, at ten o’clock, when a jury having been empannelled, the following trials were proceeded with:


HENRY LAUGHLIN, indicted for setting fire to an out-house, the property of DANIEL McGERRATTY, on the 15th June last.

Daniel McGerratty was called and examined by JOHN SCHOALES, Esq. Q.C., - Lives in Altonagh, and remembers the house being burned in June last; the byre (the house burned) was some yards from the dwelling-house; this happened between two and three o’clock in the morning; he was up in his own house, and saw a horse and two men on him coming up to his place at that hour; saw the prisoner and another man with him on the horse; the prisoner got off the horse, and came towards the byre; and in a short time after went off with the man and the horse; shortly after, observed the byre on fire, and sent for his brother to assist him in putting it out; got the fire out after some injury being done.

To the Court – There was no fire in his dwelling-house at the time, as the night was very warm.

Cross-examined by Counsellor LOWRY – It was a late hour of the night to be out; his wife and he were not on good terms, and she had gone to her father’s; prisoner is witnessess’ brother-in-law; some time before that prisoner’s father had a cow-house and two cows burned; was summoned to Termon Bench for the treatment he gave his wife; but owing to non-attendance of magistrates the case was adjourned.

To the Court – Would not call in his brother-in-law to help to put out the fire.

JOHN McGARRETTTY, examined by JOHN SMYLY, Q.C. – This witness corroborated to the house being on fire, and helping to extinguish the flames.

To the Court –His brother did not tell him at the time who did it.

His Lordship having charged the Jury, they retired an returned a verdict of not guilty.



JOHN EDGAR was indicted for the manslaughter of GEORGE WILLIAMS, on 20th March 1824.

MARGARET CAMPBELL examined by JOHN SMYLY, Esq., Q.C. – Had a brother killed in the year 1824, his name was GEORGE WILLIAMS; he was about twenty-two years of age when he died; saw him at RICHARD INNIS’S of Benowen [Donemana]; he was blackened in parts of his body, and many bruises were observed upon him; an inquest was held upon him before the Messrs. HAMILTON, but did not hear the verdict. Nor did witnesses know how he came by his death.

EDWARD McGORRAN examined by Mr. SCHOALES, Q.C. –Knew George Williams and knows the prisoner at the bar; saw Williams and the prisoner together on the 20th March 1844 (sic). –This witness deposed to having saw others in the company of the deceased and prisoner, and that the whole quarrel arose out of a drinking affair. He further deposed that he (witness) had gone to America and returned again, whence after his return, he heard of the present proceedings about to be taken against the prisoner

Cross-examined by JAMES DOHERTY, Esq. – The manslaughter took place twenty-two years ago; there was a dance in the house at the time, and the quarrel commenced about drinking; cannot say if the parties had their coats off or not, but the one appeared as eager for fighting as the other; witness was fifteen years in America.

Mr. Doherty here addresses the Court, and said he had many witnesses to produce, to show that Williams, the deceased, was the person who provoked the quarrel, and first assaulted the prisoner, but it was too long a period since, he thought it unnecessary.

Judge TORRENS – But Mr. Doherty, even so, I cannot see how that will justify the perpetration of the homicide.

Mr. Doherty – My lord, I can prove that the deceased was a very violent man, and followed the prisoner some distance out of the house, and actually commenced beating him, when the prisoner in his own defence retaliated, and the result was the death of the unfortunate man.

Judge Torrens – But Mr Doherty, as I said before, the unfortunate man came to his death, and if you can show me anything that will operate in the prisoner’s behalf as a palliation, I will be most happy to hear it.

Mr. Doherty then called a witness name WADE, who deposed to Williams following the prisoner, and striking him. Certificates as to character having been produced, his Lordship charged the Jury, who returned a verdict of guilty – Sentence deferred.



JAMES McALEER, WILLIAM GIBSON and DAVID KELLY, were indicted for a riot at Legilly Wood, on the 18th of August last.

Counsellor LOWRY addressed the Court, and said – My Lord, the prisoners at the bar appeared here at the last Asssizes as witnesses, and after giving their testimony, your Lordship ordered the Crown to take informations against them, and indict them as forming a part of the riotous assembly then tried by your lordship. I have learned that it was on the suggeston of the Jury before whom the case was tried, and as I am instructed that the present Jury are almost to a man of that Jury, I have no objection to the case being given to them in charge.

Judge TORRENS – Mr Lowry, you labour under a mistake; it was the Judge of himself made that order – the jury had nothing to do with it.

Mr. Lowry – My lord, I have the greatest respect for evey gentleman of the Jury, and I am glad to find that I have been mistaken.

Mr. SCHOALES, Q.C., here rose, and said, on the part of the Crown, he was not prepared to go to trial. He had no witnesses to prove the case.

Judge Torrens – You must go on Mr. Schoales – now or never.

Two witnesses were afterwards called, but failing to substantiate the case, the prisoners were acquitted, much to the satisfaction of a crowded court.



DAVID MACAULEY was indicted for a malicious assault on JOHN CONNOLLY, on the 25 th March last, at Rouskey- submitted



JANE PATTERSON and WILLIAM LAY were arraigned for the murder of JAMES PATTERSON, on the 14th of April last.

The Crown, not being prepared to go on with the case, allowed the prisoner (sic) to traverse until next sessions.

MR. DOHERTY, the counsel for the prisoners, hoped his lordship would allow them out on sufficient bail being tendered.

This application was strongly resisted by the Crown, showing, from the circumstance of the prisoners having sold their property, and having been arrested on their way to America, that it would be a dangerous experiment.

The Court, concurring with the Crown, ordered them to remain in custody.



MICHAEL MAGEE, PAT MAGEE, and BERNARD MACHIN, for an illegal assembly, on the 20th June last at Teranene [Terenew?] The prisoners traversed in prox till next Assizes.

CHARLES HUGHES, indicted for perjury, at Caledon Petty Sessions, on the 30th June last.

Counsellor Lowry ably defended the prisoner, and urged strongly that from his respectability and good character, he might have been subject to mistake.

His Lordship, in his charge concurred in a great measure with the learned counsel for the prisoner, and the result was, the prisoner’s acquittal.

With the exception of another trifling one, the above were the only cases for trial, and the Court rose at an early hour on Tuesday – a fact which speaks well for the for the peaceable state of this great and extensive county


These Assizes were also reported in the Londonderry Sentinel July 25 1846 and included additional information:


Shortly after nine o’clock, the Hon. Justice TORRENS took his seat in the Crown Court, and the following Petit Jurors having answered to their names, were sworn, and the trials proceeded with: - Messrs. DAVID DENNY, ANDREW ROGERS, GEORGE BOOTH, JOHN HOUSTON, JOHN KELLY, NATHANIEL ALCORN, JOHN McADAM, MILLER BARBER, JOHN MILES MORAN, JAMES McGREW, JAMES KYLE, WM. DUDGEON.


HENRY LOUGHRAN was indicted for that he, on the 15th of June, did set fire to an out-house of DANIEL McGARRITY, of Altanagh, with intent to burn same.

Daniel McGerrity, examined by John Schoales, Esq., Q.C., - Lives in the parish of Termon, at Altanaugh; an attempt was made to burn his cow-house about one o’clock on the morning of the 16th of June; was up watching in consequence of his wife having gone to a neighbour’s house; heard the noise of a horse coming up the lane; there were two men on the horse; they alighted some distance from the house, when Henry Loughran went to the cow-house and blew a coal, and put it into the thatch; witness was screened by a “boortree” bush from the view of the prisoner; after setting the house on fire, he went away; witness, with the assistance of his brother, succeeded putting out the file.

Cross examined by James C. Lowry, Esq. – His wife and he were on bad terms at times; and sometimes took shelter in her father’s house; her father’s cow-house and two cows in it were burnt one time after his wife had left him.; was summoned before the bench of Magistrates for alleged ill-treatment of his wife; the prisoner was to have appeared as a witness against him.

JOHN McGERRITY, examined by John G. Smyly, Esq. – Was sleeping that night at his brother’s house; saw the byre on fire; helped him to put it out; it was not hard to do. Not guilty.



JOHN EDGAR was indicted for having, on the 20th March, 1824, thrown down, against a wall, one GEORGE WILLIAMS, and by giving him a blow with his fist, and a kick, caused the death of the said George Williams.

MARGARET CAMPBELL, examined by Mr. Smyly, Q.C. – Had a brother called George Williams, saw him in the morning of the 20th of March, 1824; he was quite well; saw him in the evening at DICK INNISS’S in Benone [Donemana]; he was then dead; had a black spot upon his breast; an inquest was held on him by the Mr. Hamiltons

EDWARD McGOWAN, examined by Mr. Schoales, Q.C. – Knew the deceased George Williams; knows the prisoner, John Edgar; was in company with the prisoner, the deceased, and JOHN McKIGAN, and JAS. McKIGAN; these two he believed were since dead; they were all drinking together in the house of Dick Iniss; the deceased and the prisoner disputed about the paying for drink; witness presented them from fighting, and put Williams into a back room; Dick Inness put the deceased out onto the street; saw him and the prisoner fighting; observed the prisoner strike him a blow with his fist that knocked him down; he also gave him a kick; went to the deceased and found him quite insensible; he never spoke after; he appeared in his usual health before the fighting took place.

Cross-examined by James Doherty, Esq. – This happened about 22 years ago; there had been dancing in the evening; they were all on friendly terms when drinking together in the public house; witness was fifteen years in America; the deceased appeared to be as ready for fighting as the prisoner.

His Lordship inquired what was the finding at the inquest, when the Counsel for the Crown said that it was not a regular inquest, being only an investigation by magistrates.

When his Lordship was about to charge the jury, Mr. Doherty said that he had been instructed that the homicide had been committed by the prisoner when acting in self-defence. That the prisoner had gone to reside in the neighbourhood of Derry, and had never left the country.



JAMES WADE, examined by Mr. Doherty – Was sitting in the room of Dick Innis, when the party of whom EDGAR and WILLIAMSON (sic) were a part came in; there was some wrangling in the room, when the deceased man appeared anxious for fighting with the prisoner; saw him follow the prisoner down the road, and heard him say that he must either fight him, or say that he was not able; saw him go between the prisoner and the road to the house of the latter, and strike him, when they commenced fighting; McGowan had separated them in the house, and the deceased, on being put out by Innis, followed the prisoner, and wanted him to fight him.

Mr. Doherty examined no other witness, but handed to his Lordship a certificate of character for the prisoner, from the rector, the Hon. and Rev. C. DOUGLASS.

The jury, after a short consultation, returned a verdict of guilty.



JAMES McATEER, DAVID KELLY and WILLIAM GIBSON, were indicted for a riot at Loughilly, on the 15th of August.

Mr Lowry, counsel for the prisoners, made application for another jury, as it was at the instance of the present jury that the prisoner was ordered to be put upon their trial.

His Lordship exonerated the jury from this charge.

Mr. Schoales said that two of the principal witnesses against them had gone to America, and he did not wish to have them tried now. His Lordship ruled that the trial should be with proceeded with.

JOHN CORCORAN, examined by Mr. Schoales, Q.C. – Was at Loughgilly on the night of the 15th of August; saw David Kelly on the road; had a gun in his hand; heard shots about two hours after; knew DANIEL CAVANAGH; heard that he had gone to America.

Constable HENRY CORR, examined by Mr. Smyly – Knew nothing of his own knowledge of what happened at Loughgilly. Not Guilty.



DAVID McAULEY was indicted for maliciously assaulting JOHN CONNOLLY, at Rooskey, on the 25th of March last. The prisoner on being arraigned, submitted, and stated that Captain MOUTRAY would give him a character.


CHARLES HUGHES was indicted for that he, on the 30th of May, swore that he saw JAMES McKENNA at his own house on that morning, whereas he was not there, but in Omagh that day.

Mr. Schoales, Q.C., brought this case briefly before his Lordship and the Jury. He said that the father of the prisoner had summoned McKenna, the prosecutor, to the Caledon bench on a case of trespass, and when the Magistrates were about to postpone the trial, owing to the absence of McKenna, the prisoner swore he saw him at home that morning.

HENRY LESLIE PRENTICE, Esq., examined by Mr. Smyly, Q.C. – Is a Magistrate of the county; attended at Petty Sessions on the 30th of March, along with JAMES DUPRE ALEXANDER, Earl of Caledon, another Magistrate; has the Petty Sessions book now (produced it); McKenna had been summonsed for malicious trespass; did not appear when called, and his wife stated that her husband was away from home; was about in consequence to postpone the case, which he would have done, but that the prisoner came forward and swore that he had saw him at home that morning; fined McKenna 2shillings, 6pence. and costs, owing to this evidence.

Cross-examined by Mr. Lowry – Heard nothing before this against the prisoner

JAMES McKENNA, examined by Mr. Schoales, K.C. – Lives at Augheenis, twenty miles from Omagh; had business with the agent, Mr. AUCHINLECK; left home on the 29th May, but did not see Mr. Auchinleck till the evening of that day, and did not return till the evening of the next day; was summoned to attend at the Petty Sessions on the 10th, and intended being there but was detained.

PATRICK BOYLE, examined by Mr. Smyly, Q.C. – Saw McKenna between twelve and one o’clock in Omagh on the 30th May; saw him also at an early hour on the morning of that day.

Mr. Lowry addressed the jury on behalf of the prisoner. He said that he had admitted that his client had made a mistake in swearing that the prosecutor had been at home when he was in Omagh; but was the fact was, that he saw another man whom he supposed to be him, and therefore did not wilfully and corruptly swear that was not true, which it would require him to have done before he could be found guilty of the crime of perjury.



JAMES HAMILTON, examined by Mr. Lowry. – Knows James McKenna; saw a man at his house on the 30th of May, whom he took to be James McKenna; five others who saw the man were of the same opinion.

Cross-examined by Mr. Schoales, Q.C. – Would not have sworn that the man he saw was McKenna; would not do so when he was not speaking to him. Not guilty



JANE PATTERSON and WILLIAM LOY, her son, charged with the murder of JAMES PATTERSON, step-son to the former, at or near Benburb, on the 13th or 4th of April, on being arraigned, Mr. Schoales, Q.C., on the part of the Crown, made application to have their trial postponed.

This was resisted by Mr Doherty, counsel for the prisoners, but after some discussion, it was ruled by the Court that the trial should be postponed.

BERNARD MACKEN, PATRICK MAGEE, and MICHAEL MAGEE, for an illegal assembly at Teranene [Terenew?] on the 20th of June. Traversed in prox.

There being no other case ready for trial, his Lordship proceeded to try some road traverses, which having concluded, and disposed of all road memorials, he adjourned.



At half- past nine o’clock the Hon. Justice TORRENS took his seat in the Crown Court, and having disposed of some memorials relative to the lunatics and road contracts, directing, in the case of the lunatics, their friends to get them into the asylum, as the jail would not receive them; and deciding generally, with regard to the contractors against entering upon their cases after the Grand Jury had risen, and expressing himself to the effect that they would not be paid unless they fairly fulfilled their contracts. He then proceeded to pass the following sentences: -

JOHN EDGAR, convicted of manslaughter, committed 22 years ago, to be imprisoned one month from the commencement of the Assizes.

ROBERT McCARTNEY, who submitted on a charge of stealing a coat, on being put forward, Constable MORTIMER, of Caledon, addressing the Judge stated, that on taking the prisoner into custody, he found a watch and two teaspoons on his person.

His Lordship enquired of the prisoner how he came by the watch and spoons.

Prisoner replied that he bought the watch from a soldier in Belfast, and paid thirty-one shillings for it. He stated that ALLEN, the man with whom he had lived, and from whom he had stolen the coat, owed him nine shillings of wages. This Allen denied, alleging that the prisoner, before leaving his service, said he would not ask him for any wages for the time he had been with him.

Hs Lordship ruled that Allen should pay the nine shillings to the prisoner, and get the coat, and that the prisoner should be imprisoned three calendar months – the watch to remain with the constable for further enquiry.

ELIZABETH LINDSAY, charged with stealing £9.11s. from her uncle, ALEXANDER PHILLIPS, to be imprisoned one week from the commencement of the Assizes

DAVID McAULEY who pleaded to an assault – to be imprisoned for one month, and before being discharged to give security to keep the peace, himself in £20, and two sureties in £10 each.

THOMAS KELLY, indicted for stabbing THOMAS McCRYSTAL, at Ballinahatty, on the 8th of July, submitted – to be imprisoned six calendar months, and kept at hard labour each alternate fortnight, and, before being discharged, to give security to be of the peace, himself of £20, and two sureties in £10 each.

The whole of the business in both courts terminated before twelve o’clock, noon. It is somewhat remarkable that not a single individual has been sentenced to transportation at theses Assizes.