Of Biddulph up Before Squire Peters


Squire Peters held court at Lucan on Saturday to hear further evidence in the case of Donnelly against sixteen farmers and residents of Biddulph, upon a charge of trespass. The village of Lucan presented a very lively appearance on the occasion, the case having attracted considerable attention, all the parties engaged being well known in the township, and upwards of two hundred persons crowded into the court-room to hear the trial. [...] The majority of the residents are generous hearted souls of Erin, who, being possessed in an eminent degree with the chivalrous [asture?] of their forefathers. Upon different occasions have a little drink or two of whiskey, and this arousing the hot blood, a few heads are broken "just by way of divarsion." The result of these periodical rows is that some dozen or so summonses and cross summonses are issued and half the township summoned as witnesses, whilst the remainder of the residents some to the court to hear the trial. Several adjournments are generally had, thus increasing the costs, and the termination has been that each one has been fined, and the animosity, one towards another made deeper. This modes of proceeding to obtain satisfaction has been discovered to be a rather costly one, and steps were taken to remedy this evil. To effect this purpose a number of the residents to the number of forty banded together and formed a "Vigilance Committee," invested with power similar to Judge Lynch's, for the summary treatment and disposition of all offenders against the property or persons of any one in the vicinity. [...] Some short time after this Committee had been formed a cow was either stolen or lost from a neighboring farm, and sixteen of the members of this Committee went in a body to a farm occupied by John Donnelly, who had made himself distasteful to the Committee, to search for the cow, alleging it to have been stolen by him. A search was made, and the cow not being found the Committee went away. Donnelly then took out summonses against the sixteen members of the Committee, who recently appeared before Squire Peters in London, but the case was adjourned in order to allow the defendants to produce witnesses.

Source: Unknown, "The Vigilance Committee," London Advertiser, September 29, 1879.

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