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mutable principles of right, justice and enlight ened policy.*


Suppression The summer of 1806 was marked by no inter of partial disturban. nal occurrence worthy of notice. In the city of Armagh, where the Limerick militia was quartered, very alarming symptoms of discontent displayed themselves on several different days in July. Most of the men of that regiment are Roman Catholics. The yeomanry of the city of Armagh, and the greater part of the townsmen, who are Protestants, and mostly Orangemen, had arrayed themselves on one side, and held very provoking and insulting language to the militia men: they drew up, and were joined by most of the Catho lics of Armagh but providentially they committed no further excesses, than some personal assaults, in which many were severely wounded. A garrison affray happened at Tullamore between a party of the light brigade lately quartered at Birr, consisting of the light companies of the Derry, Monaghan, Limerick and Sligo militia, which had marched into that town in the evening, and some companies of Hanoverian infantry, that had been quartered there for a cousiderable time. Two lives were lost, and several on each side (about 30 in


The death of Mr. Fox caused no alteration in the Irish government. In England, Lord Howick quitted the Admiralty, and went to the Foreign Office. Mr. T. Grenville succeeded him in the Admiralty. Lord Sidmouth resigned the Privy Seal to Lord Holland, and Lord Fitzwilliam retired from the Presidency of the Board of Controul, to which Lord Sidmouth suc ceeded.

all) were wounded. By the prudent and officerlike conduct of General Von Lysingen, the Hanoverian commanding officer, the affray was checked, which by improvidence or malice might have set the kingdom in a flame.


2 The most serious disturbances, which were like- Threshers. ly from necessity, accident or design, to be worked up into a political consequence, were the tumultuary proceedings of a large portion of the peasantry in the western parts of the country. Where the rack rent paid for land by the immediate occupier of the soil, which went to feed the middle men, who idly subsisted on their profit rents, was exorbitant, beyond all proportion, to labour and provision, it was to be expected, that these industrious victims of extortion should at least be sore at the extreme difficulty of discharging their landlords and maintaining their families. But when unexpected demands were made upon them from road-jobbing presentments of corrupt Grand Juries, and the surcharged claims of tythe proctors were heaped upon them (no matter whether legal or illegal) can it be a wonder, that the original soreness from difficulty, should have arisen into despair from incompetency, and thence have proceeded from individual to combined resistance? In consequence of recent exactions from the tythe proctors in the counties of Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, and parts of Roscommon, formerly notable for their pacific and orderly demeanour, a body of people, stiling themselves Threshers (i. e. of tythe proctors corn) had appeared in a


sort of public confederacy. Up to that time, they had punctiliously confined their outrages and depredations to the collectors of tythes and their underlings. They frankly averred their reasons for their conduct, viz. that from the late unprecedented rise in the tythes, beyond what had before been insisted upon, the profits of their crops centered almost entirely in the tythe proctor. They sent letters, signed Captain Thresher, to the growers of flax and oats, warning them, under severe pains, to leave their tythes in kind on the fields, but on no account to pay any monied composition to their rectors and vicars, or their lessees or proctors. Had the managers of the Bedford administration in all things minutely fol lowed the example of their predecessors, those counties would have been proclaimed, and probably a more general insurrection have existed in Ireland, than in the year 1798. Many of the task drivers under the old regime (all found in place were retained, except Lord Redesdale and Mr. Foster discharged by Mr. Fox) urged the government to proclaim the disturbed counties, and recommence the discipline and goadings of 1798. Such an overt re-adoption of the atrocities of terrorism would have at once defeated the main object of the present managers of Ireland, which was to prevent the extinction of the system, by keeping off its sure destruction, the vital question of emancipation. They accordingly sent Mr. Serjeant Moore

Lord Grey (then Viscount Howick) on the 26th of March, 1897, in his Expose, sets out with this broad assertion.


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to Castlebar, to investigate the nature of the evidence, and report upon the expediency of issuing a special commission to try the forty-four prisoners, who were then in custody for those specific outrages.

of the

As the bulk of the peasantry throughout Con- Further naught is Catholic, every combination of them particulars must individually consist generally of Catholics. Threshers. But the Threshers were in no manner an emanation from the Catholic body, or Dublin Catholic Committee, nor in any way concerned with or interested in the questions of the policy and expediency of bringing forward or holding back their petition to Parliament, so warmly agitated at the Catholic meetings in Dublin. Formerly the White Boys, Wright Boys, Heart of Steel Boys, Heart of Oak Boys, and other denominations of discontented and tumultuary peasants, had caused similar disturbances in various parts of the country : but none even of the most corrupt and sanguinary Statesmen of those times persisted in fixing the body of Catholics with the crimes of some misguided wretches, who were seduced or goaded into the commission of felony by groupes, under particular denominations, because the individuals had been brought up in the Roman Catholic religion. The conduct of government with reference to the Threshers was singular, if not improvident. Long before the last change in his Majesty's councils, this combination and denomination of Threshers

hoped by a conciliatory mode of government to keep the question at




had acquired a formidable consistency; but, as discontent arising out of misery must at least keep pace with, if not out-tep its parent, they certainly did, during the Bedford administration, acquire strength from the encrease of numbers and organization. During the whole of that administration, nothing was even attempted to redress the grievances complained of, under the tything system, nor to afford relief against the abuses of a corrupt magistracy. The government well knew the progress of the evil; but, as it was local, no remedy could be effectually applied, which they were not called upon to carry into effect throughout the whole nation, and that, it appears by their conduct, they were pre-determined not to attempt. They betrayed an uncommon anxiety to suppress the magnitude of the evil from the eyes of the public; and for that purpose, resorted to the hacknied expedient of bribing the periodical publications into silence or misrepresentation. To some of the more independent papers* in circulation,

*One of the most ordinary, plausible, and mischievous engines of corruption in Ireland has for many years been the merce nary use of the newspapers, which unquestionably work a powerful bias, on so much of the public mind, as thinks not for itself. It is a matter of notoriety, that the favoured prints, to which government sends their proclamations and advertisements, are well understood to follow the directions of government in whatever they lay before the public, as to the state of the country and the measures of the Castle. The proprietor therefore of an established paper estimates this preference at a nett profit of more than £2000 a year. He is consequently a pensioner to that amount, during his observance of the implied compact. The

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