|Clare County Library||
|The Delahunty Family History:
From Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland to Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
by Catherine Delahunty
Chapter 5: The Exeution of Francis Hynes, Limerick, September 1882
Within my prison cell I sit penning down those saddening
Found in 1953 amongst family papers of Francis (II) who was a son of Maurice Hynes (brother of Francis Hynes).
Yesterday morning Francis Hynes paid the highest penalty that the law imposes, for the murder of the unfortunate Doolaghty, near Ennis, on the 9th of July last. The morning was one of the finest which came for the past year - a fine glorious sunshine, a bright unclouded sky - all was warm and beautiful as our representative wended his way towards the County Gaol, where the culprit lay awaiting execution. From the appearance that the City presented at six o’clock in the morning the visitor would not imagine that in two short hours from that time, a young man, of splendid physique, full of youth and health, would be done to death at the hands of the public executioner. But notwithstanding appearances, the fact was that Francis Hynes would, at 8 o’clock, be executed by Marwood. As our reporter approached the County prison, a small knot of the lower classes were collected on the footway opposite the upper end of the gaol, while doubled sentries walked round the square, which the outer walls of the prison form. On the roads encircling the gaol fifteen constables, under the command of Constable Kavanagh, were on duty. The utmost precautions were observed by the authorities to ensure the safe keeping of the prisoner, and the due execution of the sentence of death which had been passed upon him. At about 6.15 am eight men of the 70th Regiment marched into the precincts of the gaol with loaded rifles and bayonets fixed, and in a short time afterwards a large body of constabulary, under the command of Sub-Inspector Henry Wilton and Head Constables Rolleston and Phelan, and accompanied by Mr Bourke Irwin, Resident Magistrate, who had command of the troops and police, marched from William Street barracks and halted in front of the main entrance to the prison. As the police marched to the prison the military guard turned out and presented arms. The main body of the constabulary were then marched into the prison, while two parties patrolled the road outside.
At 7 o’clock crowds of people commenced to flock towards the
gaol, and half an hour subsequently there were over a thousand persons
present. The majority of the persons attending were of the lowest classes
from the dens of the City, from the reeking cellars, and the dark alleys
and nameless haunts. They came in all their repulsiveness and wretchedness
for the purpose of gratifying a morbid feeling of curiosity and being
near the scene of the execution of a fellow creature. But to their credit
be it said there was a total absence of profanity and obscenity which
formerly disgraced public executions when the full tide of life eddied
and poured in rapid currents through the streets to witness an execution.
The demeanour of the crowd yesterday was exceptionally good, and nothing
was heard but prayers for the future happy state of the prisoner who
was about to be executed. The most wretched and debased creature present
had an anxious look on his countenance and there was a solemnity in
the perfect silence that reigned supreme that told well for these poor
At 7.30am the Sheriff for the County Clare entered the condemned cell and informed the unfortunate man that his hour was come, and in about five minutes afterwards Marwood appeared and pinioned the prisoner. The chaplain who had been with him since an early hour, and who appeared to be deeply affected, then handed the culprit a crucifix which he devoutly kissed. At 8.15am a procession was formed, two Roman Catholic clergymen leading and repeating the litany of the dead. Next followed the doomed man with a warder on each side. He walked firmly with his head erect and his eyes intently gazing on the crucifix, and his voice in response to the prayers of the clergymen “Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us” was clear and distinct, and yet marked with a religious awe and fervour. Then followed the Governor, and Deputy governor of the gaol, the Sheriff of the County Clare, and then Marwood. In that order the procession moved at a slow pace, the chaplain saying the prayers for the dead, the convict articulating the responses in a clear voice without a tremulous note. His bearing was firm and dignified, and without ostentation or bravado, winning the sympathy and approbation of everyone who beheld him, and subsequently called forth from the lips of Marwood feeling words of sorrow at the untimely end of such a fine looking young man. The sentries ceased their walk, and the other lookers-on at the dread spectacle stood aside with tears in their eyes, with heads bowed in sorrow, and a deep momentous silence prevailed. Not a lip moved, the bystanders barely breathed as the solemn voice of a priest repeating the litany of the dead was heard, and the head of the procession became visible.
The convict was deadly pale; his eyes wandering alternately from the clergymen to the body of soldiers and constabulary who were drawn up in the courtyard of the prison, and then he would lift his eyes to heaven and his lips send forth a solemn prayer to the almighty God. A partition running parallel to the inner wall hid the scaffold from the unfortunate man, who, as he approached it, seemed to endeavour to pierce the structure. After a lapse of 15 minutes this partition was reached by the head of the procession, and the door in the structure was thrown open. The drop was reached by a short stair which the convict ascended with firm step. From a crossbeam descended the treacherous rope, and under this was placed the unfortunate man. The clergymen still performed their religious duties, and still the voice of the convict was heard in response. Then Marwood stepped forward, placed the noose around the condemned man’s neck, pulled a thin white cap over his ashen face, and then stooped and tied his feet securely together. The pinioning of the arms allowed his hands to clasp his crucifix. Marwood was then seen to leave the presence of the convict, who stood for a moment before the persons present. The bolt was drawn and Francie Hynes was launched into another world. A black flag was hoisted on the prison tower denoting that the execution had been carried out. Marwood afterwards remarked: “I never executed a finer man, nor a man with so much nerve. He walked to his doom with the utmost composure and I cannot but admire him”.
The chaplain who attended him in his last moments afterwards appealed to the congregation in St John’s Cathedral to pray for the soul of Francis Hynes, who, he believed, died innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. Still more convincing is the hint in Marwood’s own complimentary remarks, altogether out of character, that he believed in the innocence of Hynes.
Marwood left Limerick for the last time in the same manner in which he entered - by the back door. The covered mail was again brought into requisition to convey him to the deserted platform of Boher Station to catch the night mail to Dublin.Lines on the Execution of Francis Hynes
He is dead in Limerick jail,
From The Book of Old Irish Street Ballads, (Reprinted 1967)
The imputed irregularities of the jury, the objectionable manner in which they were chosen, the stern determination of the Crown to carry to an end the fiat which had gone forth...called forth on every side an expression of intense dissatisfaction and dismay which it is possible to describe and which gives to this case a complexion which places it among the causes celebres of Irish history. The identity of the real murderer will probably never be known. A fairly common tradition held that Francis Hynes offered himself for the fate that should have awaited a kinsman who was the father of a young family.
Whatever may have been the motives of those who urged Lord Spencer to commute the capital sentence passed on Francis Hynes, their unavailing activity has only served to emphasise the much-needed lesson which his execution teaches. On Monday, for the first time since agrarian murders became incidents in agitation, the criminal suffered for his offence on the scaffold. The fact is of terrible significance as an indication of the state of feeling in the country, and of the condition of society. In one case a man who attempted murder was shot on the spot by his intended victim; in several instances those implicated in moonlight outrages have been convicted and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment; but, under the operation of the ordinary law, there was absolute impunity for the agrarian assassin.
When the Crime Prevention Act at last rendered it possible to transfer the trial of such cases from the local Assize and the Common Jurors, to a Special Commission with Special Jurors, elsewhere, it was felt that the conditions were appreciably changed, and that the chance of justice being done was at least improved. The result of the Special Commission which sat in Dublin last month justifies the most sanguine hopes, and the effect given to the sentence passed on Hynes will publish everywhere the fact that it is no longer absolutely safe to kill those who offend against the Land League Code.
The efforts made to procure a remission of the sentence have directed the attention of the whole of Ireland to the triumph of law over disorder. Executions are not the less impressive because they have ceased to be a public show, and under any circumstances Hynes’ death within the walls of Limerick Gaol would have been fruitful of warning to those outside who were familiar with the circumstances of the crime. It would have told them that the terrorism which has deterred the timid, and the sympathy which has restrained the ill-disposed from assisting to the execution of justice in the place where the criminal has friends and confederates, are of no avail now that stronger tribunals have been found. But the crowd which on Monday morning waited with strained expectancy in front of the gaol represented much more than local feeling. The black flag was waved for the eyes of a whole country, and the moral of the tragedy is being discussed in every homestead today. We have no desire to gloat over the death of a man who has paid the full penalty of the law for his crime, but we cannot affect to feel regret that at length an Irish assassin has met his just doom. The evidence on which Hynes was convicted left no reasonable doubt of his guilt. Those who allege that the positive declaration of the dying man was not sufficient, prudently ignore the strong circumstantial corroboration. We should be slow to accuse the leader of the party of agitation of absolute and deliberate sympathy with outrage, but it is painfully notorious that they have shown systematic indifference to it, and, as far as their influence has gone, have done their best to handicap law in its struggle with crime. They prophesied that the Special Commission would exasperate the people, and to justify their prophecy they have tried to prejudice the people against the Court of Special Commission. Even if we assume - and the assumption, we need not say, is in no wise justified by the facts - that the worst alleged by Mr Gray and his friends against the jury which tried Hynes is true, the fact still remains that in the judgment of at least eight perfectly sober and discreet men there was no doubt of the prisoner’s guilt. But this was not a consideration likely to find favour with those whose sole aim is to obtain popularity, even by ministering to the worst passions of the people. The object was to discredit the Tribunal, not to save an innocent man, and since it became impossible to separate the case of the imprisoned Mr Gray from the case of the convicted criminal Hynes, resort was had to every artifice of agitation to bring pressure to bear on the Lord Lieutenant.
It is to Lord Spencer’s credit that he has himself withstood the temptations to which he has been exposed. Nothing is easier, nothing is more likely to secure for a time the fickle breath of public favour than the indulgence of a disposition to clemency. Lord Spencer’s personal popularity has survived many an act which would be fatal to reputations less securely based than his. He feels it, no doubt, to be one of the sources of his strength, and he loses no legitimate opportunity of enhancing it. But in this crisis he has clearly discerned that authority is best maintained by being asserted; and that any show of weakness - even when weakness takes the form of mercy - would work infinite harm. He has thought less of the wretched convict and more of the many, whose lives would remain every day in jeopardy if more clamour secured pardon for men like Hynes. Of course, if there were any defect in the evidence it would have been incumbent on him at any risk of injury to the prestige of the Courts to have interfered to prevent the execution of an unjust sentence. But having, once for all, carefully considered the record, he allowed himself to be moved by no reiteration of appeal for the decision to which that consideration led him. Every new allegation adduced was, indeed, regarded; but to Lord Spencer, as to most men of sober judgement, they all appeared untrustworthy or irrelevant. The truth is, there was little to command respect in the protests. The memorials were prepared, and mainly signed, by men whose teachings had no doubt betrayed Hynes into his fatal crime, and who have omitted no opportunity of assisting their more impetuous disciples to escape the consequences of their offences. The meeting at the Rotunda showed at once how few men of character would take part in the movement, and what the feeling was of the rank and file. When Canon Pope denounced murder in frank terms, the audience refused to hear him, and the chairman had to interfere - not to justify the speaker’s sentiments - but to plead that as he was in favour of the immediate object of the meeting, his abstract remarks, however objectionable, should be tolerated. It was clear that sympathy was felt for Hynes rather because he was suspected not to be innocent than because he was not proved guilty. The firmness which the Lord Lieutenant has shown in this business, as well as in the Police Strike, encourages me to hope that there is now an end of vacillation and pliability, and that henceforth Government will boldly hold its own way in Ireland. To some extent the pressure they will have to resist is less than it once was, owing to causes with which the policy of the Administration has had no concern. The tenant farmers are showing, by their attitude to the labourers, the narrow selfishness of purpose which all along lay at the bottom of the agitation, and, although the strife of the two classes may cause trouble, the Government will hardly (in spite of Mr Dillon’s efforts to induce both to glut themselves at the landlords’ expense) have to face, as heretofore, their combined disaffection. Mr Davitt and Mr George’s scheme for the Nationalisation of the Land may cause disquiet, but as it rests upon a fundamental denial of all the assertions as to the brutality of English rule, the exceptional harshness of the Land Laws, and so forth, which formed the stock in trade of agitators, it will, at any rate, serve to neutralise some of the inflammatory falsehoods they have preached. Truth may be saved by the conflict of errors. Meanwhile, the minor provisions of the Prevention of Crimes Act are being enforced with excellent effect. Evidence sometimes fails ; but little by little the conviction is being diffused among the people that to practice the old methods, is unsafe, that to threaten boycotting is perilous, and that to be threatened with it is not necessary.
The offence for which Mr Edmond Dwyer Gray was so savagely sentenced by Judge Lawson, who, moreover, acted alone as judge and jury, was the publication of a letter from Mr W O’Brien, in which he accused the jury who convicted Francis Haynes (sic) of the murder of John Doughty (sic) of having been drunk the night before their verdict was returned. The Lord Lieutenant refused to interfere with Judge Lawson’s sentence, but has ordered an inquiry to be made as to the truth of Mr O’Brien’s accusation. Judge Lawson, moreover, complimented the jury on the admirable manner in which, as he alleged, they had conducted themselves generally. Meanwhile the country sides with Mr Gray, and loudly protests against the treatment received by him. The freedom of the city of Limerick has been conferred upon him, and no doubt the example set by the corporation in question will be followed elsewhere.
The committal to prison of Mr Edmund Dwyer Gray, of which Wednesday’s mail brought us the full particulars, has certainly been chief among the many extraordinary and high-handed things done in Ireland throughout the agitation. A Mr William O’Brien, it seems, who was a resident in the Imperial Hotel, wrote a letter to the “Freeman” complaining that on the night before the jury had returned their verdict of Guilty in the case of the Queen versus Hynes, they had conducted themselves with gross impropriety, behaving riotously until a very late hour in the hotel where they were supposed to be kept apart for the consideration of their verdict. The Solicitor-General accordingly, in the Commission Court before Judge Lawson, moved for an attachment against Mr Gray, both because of the publication of the letter in question and certain articles commenting upon the selection of juries, from which Catholics had been rigorously excluded. Upon this Judge Lawson, without taking any evidence, sentenced Mr Gray to three months imprisonment in Richmond, and to pay a fine of £500; also at the end of the three months, to give bail for his good behaviour - himself in £5,000, and two sureties in £2,500 each - which of course meant that the “Freeman” was to be silenced so far as the national cause was concerned. Mr Gray being a member of Parliament, however, Judge Lawson was obliged to write to the Speaker of the House of Commons acquainting him with the sentence, and on his letters being read a debate took place, in which Mr Sexton read several affidavits made by persons belonging to the Imperial Hotel, and not only bearing out Mr O’Brien’s statements as to the conduct of the jury, but adding several gross particulars not mentioned by him - and which drew from the Attorney-General an admission that, if the affidavits were true, they revealed a terrible state of things. He, further, promised that the Lord Lieutenant should enquire into the charges made. Sir Charles Gavan Duffy has, meantime, written a letter to Mr Gray, in which he says he had read the proceedings against him with “nearly as much surprise as if they were a trial for witchcraft,” and thanks him for the stand he had taken as to the systematic exclusion of Catholics from juries, and for “not suffering the best fruits of emancipation to be snatched away in silence.” Sir Charles adds that he knows nothing about the conduct of the jury in the Hynes case, but that in Judge Lawson’s place he would not have first refused to hear evidence and then pronounced “a decisive and dogmatic opinion on facts which he had not investigated.” But as to the result of the enquiry into the charges against the jury, we are justified in supposing that it was their full establishment, since Mr Gray, as we learned from a recent telegram, has been released. It is, however, to be hoped that the Irish party will not suffer Judge Lawson’s conduct to fade from the memory of the House, where already in the debate on his letter, Mr Macfarlane has stigmatised him as having obtained his seat on the Bench by a gross and shocking case of wholesome corruption in a southern borough.
The following paragraph from Mr Egan’s interview with the “Irish World’s” reporter is deserving of special consideration: - “A special jury in Dublin under the Crimes Act consists of 200 persons holding property at £50 a year and upwards. The majority are Conservatives. In capital cases the prisoner has twenty challenges, The Crown an unlimited right to challenge. The prisoner soon exhausts his twenty, and when each Catholic, Liberal Presbyterian, Methodist, or Quaker is called the Crown orders him to stand aside, and by this process selects a jury of twelve Tories. With a jury of this kind, a prosecuting judge, and a well coached battalion of bribed testimony, the Castle can, if they desire, convict with perfect certainty his eminence Cardinal McCabe or Bishop McEvily of any charge they might bring against them. It is now admitted by officials at the Castle - one of them made the admission to myself - that Hynes was hanged in the wrong, that they now know the real murderer of Doloughty, but having hanged Hynes for it they do not want to open up the case again. It is beyond doubt that four others - Walsh, Myles Joyce, Poff and Barrett - were innocent of crimes for which they suffered.”
Some of the individuals whose lives impacted to some degree on the history of the Delahunty family:
Boycott, Charles Cunningham: Born Burgh St Peter, Norfolk, England on 12.3.1832. The family was of French Huguenot extraction and fled to England in 1685. Their name was originally “Boycatt”. By 28.9.1880 due to the general unpopularity of Boycott at his leasehold property at Lough Mask House, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, a large party of constabulary were despatched to guard the Boycott family and home. Boycott’s tenants had previously walked off the land in a dispute over rent abatements and the family were isolated. This gave rise to the term “boycotting”. On 1 December 1880 Boycott and his family left Ireland for London. He died in 1897 at his home The Hollows, Flixton Estate, Suffolk, and is buried in the Churchyard at Burgh St Peter. After the execution of Francis Hynes, John Doolaghty’s widow stated her family had been “boycotted”.
Healy, Tim: (1855-1931) Born in Bantry, Co Cork, was the son of Maurice Healy, a clerk of the Bantry union. His mother’s three brothers (Sullivan) became Members of Parliament, as did her three sons of whom Timothy was the outstanding character. Tim began to earn his living at age 13 in England but quickly moved into the political and literary world. He became firmly established as a politician when Charles Stewart Parnell invited him to become his secretary. He developed into a fearless speaker in the House of Commons, in the cause of various Irish improvements especially land ownership. When the split against Parnell began, Tim turned completely against him. As a member of the English Bar he took on many cases of a political nature and defended a number of the suffragettes. He supported Britain in World War I but the events of 1916 drove him home to Ireland. He became the first Governor-General of the Irish Free State, a post he filled most successfully from 1922 until 1927. It is reported in some publications that he also defended Francis Hynes in Dublin in September 1882.
Hynes Family of Toureen (aka Toorreen & Tuoreen) House, near Ennis, Co Clare: It is believed that James Hynes’ forebears came from Co Roscommon. James, a solicitor in Ennis, married Elizabeth O’Connell of Toureen House. They had about 11 children including twins - William and Thomas born in 1852. William appears to have been the eldest son. Francis was born in 1858. Maurice born in 1863 was the youngest in the family. There were at least two girls. The family lived at Tuoreen House, a 17th century manor house and were of the gentry. The eldest children received education in France and Francis and his younger brother were taken to school in Ennis by a pony and trap. After the death of Elizabeth O’Connell Hynes in 1869 it appeared the father James developed a creeping insanity and neglected his business and to a large extent the family were left to rear themselves. By 1879 the family were facing reduced circumstances and in 1880 James Hynes was evicted from a farm called Drumdoolaghty (approximately 71 acres). It was this eviction with appears to have led to the murder of John Doolaghty in 1882. After the execution of Francis the Hynes family sold what remained of their estate and the family left Ireland. Two brothers and Maurice John Hynes and a sister went to Canada, and others to Australia. Maurice John Hynes married Johanna Hickey and they had 7 children. One of Maurice’s children was named Charles Stewart Parnell Hynes after the famous politician who was a family friend.
Marwood, William: previously a cobbler from Horncastle, England, was Lord High Executioner during the 1870s-1880s. In 1879 he was reported to be between 55-60 years of age. In 1882 Marwood travelled on the mail train to Limerick. A friendly conversation developed between him and a young lady civil servant. When they arrived at Boher about 8 miles from Limerick Marwood left the train. The poor girl only learned afterwards that the man she had been chatting to was the hangman on his way to Limerick to hang her brother Francis Hynes. At this news she fainted.
Parnell, Charles Stewart: Born Avondale, Co Wicklow
in 1846 he was the 7th of eleven children, a member of the Anglo-Irish
protestant landlord class, the original settler having come from Congleton
in Cheshire as a Cromwellian supporter. Elected MP for Meath in 1875
and by 1879 was President of the Land League. A tireless worker for
land reform he was imprisoned for a time at Kilmainham Jail. In June
1891 he married Katherine O’Shea the divorced wife of Captain
O’Shea MP. Parnell died in October 1891 and is buried at Dublin’s