O'Connor Gives Some Valuable Evidence

Amuses the Crowd Greatly

Johnny O'Connoe [Connor], re-called - When I ran with Bridge in order to get upstairs I saw them hammering.
Mr. Meredith - What were they hammering?
Witness - They were hammering the Donnellys and I got around the head of the basket and looked out; I saw two or three [men?]
Mr. Meredith - You said yesterday three which is it, two or three?
Witness - Three, I think.
Mr. Meredith - Why, then, do you say there was three?
Witness - Its all the same.
Mr. Meredith - It is not all the same.
Witness - I did not see Purtell and Ryder holding sticks; I saw the end of the sticks I did not see the men holding the sticks.
Irving - Why don't you let the boy explain his answers; you ask him a fresh question before he has his last reply made.
Mr. Meredith - Mr. Irving, I wish you would not interfere with me.
Witness - I never saw a pair of handcuffs.
Mr. Meredith - Did you ever hear of a pair of handcuffs?
Witness - I have heard of handcuffs.
Mr. Meredith - Who did you hear speaking about them?
Witness - I heard my father talking about handcuffs.
Mr. Meredith - Did you know then what handcuffs were made of?
Witness - I had no idea what handcuffs were made of then, but I thought they were made of iron.
Mr. Meredith - Couldn't they make them together?
Witness - What would they make them of iron for they would break them? (Laughter.) I never saw Carroll after the man came running in; I only saw Purtell and a man once; they were standing up at the front door Tom; I saw the men come down as they poured coal and oil on the bed; I hid behind the basket; I was very much frightened; I did not go out the front door; I was afraid because I knew Tom was lying there dead; I didn't go know where I would go when I got out from under the bed; when I first went to Whalen's I didn't know what I was saying; I told the Whalen's that Carroll was there; Whalen told me to shut up; that was the reason I did not say Purtell and Ryder were there.
Mr. Meredith - Did you see a spade.
Witness - I saw no spade.
Mr. Meredith - At the last trial you swore you saw a spade. Here is your evidence. (Reading.) "I saw some one carrying a spade then some one hit him three or four times with the spade." Now which is true?
Witness - I can't remember.
Mr. Meredith - Before the Magistrates you said you peeped out and saw Carroll, Purtell and Ryder standing around Tom.
Witness - I didn't say I saw Carroll.
Mr. Meredith - You said before the Magistrates that you saw one stick, and here you say you saw three sticks. You said in March you were looking out from behind the basket at the foot of the bed; now you say you were looking out at the head of the bed. What do you say to that?
Witness - I don't know.
Mr. Meredith - You said last March you saw Ryder and Purtell twice.
Witness - I don't think I said that.
Mr. Meredith - Then that's down wrong, also?
Witness - I don't know.
Mr. Meredith - You said at the inquest that then a whole crowd rushed in and commenced hammering Tom Donnelly with sticks and spades. Is that the way it happened?
Witness - I can't say.
Mr. Meredith - You said before the Magistrates you saw two men with their faces blackened; now you only saw one. What do you say to that?
Witness - I don't know.
Mr. Irving - I'll go over the evidence with the boy, which the learned counsel did at some length referring to the great number of times the witness has been examined, having been brought up five times for examination, including the present court. [...]

Joseph Whalen, a son of Patrick, sworn -
I was in bed that night when John O'Connor came in.
Mr. Irving - What was your father doing?
Can't remember.
Q. - What was your mother doing?
A. - Can't remember.
Q. - What room was your mother in?
A. - Can't remember.
Mr. Irving - That's encouraging, certainly. We must try and get a little more than that out of you?
His Lordship - Probably you had better get the witness to give what he knows in narrative form. This was tried with but poor results, and the Crown counsel once again resumed the interrogative style. After a little the witness became a trifle more communicative, and Mr. Irving succeeded in eliciting something over and aboce "can't remember."
Mr. Irving - I want you to answer a little quicker.
Witness - I heard my mother say to Johnny O'Connor, to stop speaking about the Donnellys being killed; stop speaking for fear he might be brought into trouble. Here the witness became tardy in the matter of evidence, again his memory failing him.
Mr. Irving - Did you read the papers since you came to the city.
Witness - I saw a paper at Martin's Hotel; not sure whether it was the Free Press or ADVERTISER; think it was the Free Press.
Mr. Irving - Then you know what I'm asking you about?
Witness - What do I know? (Laughter)
Mr. Irving - That's what I'm trying to get out of you. You know what your sister Theresa said yesterday?
Witness - I don't know what she said.
Mr. Irving - Where's you brother William?
Witness - In Michigan.
Mr. Irving - Did you speak to John O'Connor that night?
Did you speak to Johnny after you went to bed?
Did you hear Johnny speak to Theresa?
Did you hear him speak to any one?
No. (Laughter).
Did you hear any one speak to Johnny
No. (Increased laughter.)
When did you get your breakfast?
After I got up.
When did Johnny get his breakfast?
In the morning.

[...] Mrs. Mary Hastings O'Connor after being sworn was seated.
To Mr. Irving - The night of Mike's wake the valances were in the front of the bed, but not behind; the bed posts were pretty high; the rail of the bed was pretty high too.

To Mr. Macmahon - Can't say how long I have been living in Lucan; I was at Michael Donnelly's wake; my daughter lived at Donnellys for a few months; they brought John Donnelly's body to my house.

Q. - Did you hear of a reward being offered?
A. - I didn't hear it, sir.
Q. -What?
A. - Somebody has been talking to me about the reward.
Q. - Who?
A. - I can't say.
Q. - Where?
A. - I dunno where.
His Lordship - If persons have been talking to you, you will surely remember the time and place.
A. -Well, shure I can't tell.
Q. - Did they tell you the amount of the reward?
A.- I can't tell you anything about the reward.
Q. - You were in Toronto a short time ago?
A. - I was sir, an' what of it! (Laughter.)
Q. - Did you go to see the Attorney-General?
A. - To see who?
Q. - The Attorney-General.
Q. - Did you see the Attorney-General?
A. - No, sir, I did not see the Attorney-General.
Q. - Who did you see?
A. - Who did I see?
Q. - No nonsense, answer my question.
A. - I can't tell who I saw and who I didn't see.
Q. - Now be careful.
A. - What will I be careful for?
Q. - Now, Mrs. O'Connor, I'll make you answer my question.
A. - I'll not do anything to lose my soul for you or any one. (Laughter.)
Q. - Now, tell me where you went in Toronto.
A. - I went to the office.
Q. - What office?
A. - The Attorney-General's office.
Q. - What did you want there?
A. - I wanted to see what kind of place it was. (Roars of laughter, and cries of order!)
Q. - Your curiosity was excited as to the style and shape of the building. Did you go alone?
A. - I went alone.
Q. What was you business in Toronto?
A. - To see my own friends.
Q. - Come, now, you must tell the jury what you went to Toronto for.
A. - I have nothing to tell the jury nor any one else. (Laughter).
Q. - So you only went to see what kind of an office the Attorney-General had?
A. - Maybe I did and maybe I didn't, and I don't want to be questioned any longer.

His Lordship Cameron - People in your position don't usually travel a great distance and at considerable expense merely to see an office in a city.

A. - Poor people, I suppose, can't go and see things as well as rich folks? (Laughter).
Mr. Macmahon - Then all you went to Toronto for was to see the building, Did you see anyone there?
A. - Did I see anyone there?
Q. - Yes! Did you see anyone there?
A. - I saw Mr. Scott.
Q. - Oh you saw Mr. Scott did you. Who is he, pray?
A. - How would I know who he was?
Q. - What did you want to see Mr. Scott for?
A. - What did I want to see Mr. Scott for you say?
Q. - Yes, what did you want to see Mr. Scott for?
A. - I heard talk of him.
Q. - Who told you to go to Mr. Scott.
A. - How do I know?
Q. - You want the jury to believe you don't know who told you to go to the officer in Toronto?
A. - I don't want to be speaking to the jury or anyone else; what for do you be forcing a woman to answer agin' her will?
Q. - You'll have to answer my question, Mrs. O'Connor; if you don't you'll be made to.
A. - You may keep me here for a month, then!
Judge Cameron - I'll commit you, Mrs. O'Connor, unless you answer the question.
Mrs. O'Connor - You can send me to pris'n if ye like.
Q. - I will unless you answer the question.
A. - Well, then, send me; its nice to work trying to get a woman to spake agin her will.
Q. - What did you want to see Mr. Scott for?
A. - What for?
Q. - Yes, what for?
A. - Bekase I wanted to get my was home on the cars.
Q. - Nothing else?
A. - Nothing else.
Q. - You went all the way to Toronto then get the price of your railway fare back. How long were you in Mr. Scott's office?
A. - How do I know how long I was?
Q. - Were you one hour?
A. - How do I know?
Q. - Were you half an hour?
A. - How can I tell?
Q. - Were you a quarter of an hour?
A. - Maybe I was and maybe I wasn't
Q. - Did you talk about the reward?
A. - I don't remember.
Q. - Who brought you a letter about a reward?
A. - I don't know who brought the letter; I never saw it.
Q. - Will you swear you never saw the letter?
A. - I can swear I don't know who wrote the letter.
Q. - What did you do with the letter?
A. - I did'nt do anything to it, I suppose the children burnt it.
Q. - How long ago?
A. - A long time ago.
Q. - Did you tell Mr. Scott about the letter/
A. - I dunno whether I did or not.
Q. - Is that what you want the jury to understand, that you don't know whether you said anything or not about the letter?
A. - I don't think I said anything about the letter to him; I didn't say anything to Mr. Scott about the reward.

After considerable trouble the witness admitted the following very reluctantly:
I heard the letter read. It is said if I would let the boy go with these parties everything would be all right and settled.

Q. - What do you mean by settled?
A. - How do I know?
Q. - Where was the boy to go to?
A. - How could I tell where he was to go to?
Q. - Who are the parties?
A. - How can I tell who they are?

Here the Crown Counsel came forward and said: My Lords, this is all a mystery to us about this letter, and I don't know what my learned friend is driving at.

Mr. Macmahon - You'll find out soon enough.
Witness - The letter said if he would go with the parties it would be all right. I could tell anything about what's in the letter.

Q. - Did you tell Mr. Scott what was in the letter?
A. - I think I told him. We got a letter that whoever took the boy away would get the reward.
Q. - What did Mr. Scott say about the reward?
A. - How can I tell what he said?
Q. - Did Scott say as to who would get the reward?
A. - The man didn't say nothing.
Q. - Didn't you tell Mr. Scott that your boy was entitled to the reward that the Government had offered?
A. - I can't answer that, Mr. Macmahon.
Q. - Well, you must answer it.
A. - Well, I don't think I did.
Q. - What portion of the reward did you want?
A. - How do I know what I wanted?
Q. - Then you couldn't get the reward you were satisfied with getting your railway fare? How much did you ask him for?
A. - $ 5.60, to pay for my fare home.
Q. - Had you money enough with you to pay your fare back?
A. - I needn't be short; I had friends.
Q. - Answer me; had you sufficient?
A. - I hadn't sufficient.
Q. - Then I suppose you went in for blackmailing?

Source: Unknown, "Biddulph Horror - O'Connor Gives Some Valuable Evidence," London Advertiser, January 28, 1881.

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