Deposition of William Casey, March 1880

WILLIAM CASEY. — I live in Biddulph: I am a Justice of the Peace; I was appointed some time in September last, and have qualified to act as a magistrate; I am not a member of the vigilance committee; I was at Mr. James Donnelly's house looking for a cow: the crowd was mostly composed of the vigilance committee: I was a member of the committee at the that time, but I gave it up when I was appointed a Justice of the Peace, because I didn't think I had any business going around looking for stolen things when I was Justice of the Peace: it was first spoken of in the church from the pulpit by Father Connelly: he proposed that the parishioners would sign the book to allow each other to search their premises for stolen things: I signed the book: I think I attended two or three meetings at the Cedar Swamp school-house: the object of the first meeting that I attended was to go and look for Mr. Thompson's cow; a boy told me that the meeting was to be held: it was held late in the evening: Mr. Ryan's boy told me of the meeting: there were a good few there, and I found that they were calculating to go and get a search warrant, to go and look for the cow; I was at that meeting five or six hours: Bill Thompson, the man who lost the cow, was there, and Michael Carroll was there: that is about all I can remember to swear to: James Carroll might have been there, but I don't remember; I don't remember James Carroll going to Lucan from the meeting: I will swear that I don't know the names of any other person who were at the meeting except the two whom I have mentioned: next morning we met at the same place, sometime before daylight: I can't tell how many were there: there might be more than twenty and there might be less: that morning I met Anthony Heenan, Martin Dorsey, John Kennedy, Martin McLaughlin, Patrick Breen, John Heenan, I think James Ryder, (not the prisoner): I can't say whether the prisoner James Ryder was there or not: I don't think Thomas Ruder or John Purtell were there; it was owing to what occurred at the meeting the night before that we met in the morning; we thought they would have the warrant; that is what Thompson went to Lucan for; he hadn't returned from Lucan without the warrant before I left the meeting; I heard next morning that he had not got the warrant: we went to old Mr. Donnelly's farm; we went on to his premises and searched around as well as we could for the beast; they were not armed with sticks, the greater number had nothing in their hands: we didn't find the cow on Mr. Donnelly's place: I couldn't say how many there were at Donnelly's: there were about twenty, more or less: this is the only search I had with the vigilance committee: the Donnellys was not the first place we went to; we went with Mr. Hodgins, the constable from Lucan, to serve a warrant;
[cross-examination by] MR. MACMAHON. — If Whelan had told me in the morning and that the bodies had been found there, I would have formed a different idea altogether; Whalen did not tell me about the bodies; he asked me to be as easy as I could and to do anything for him that I could about the costs; I saw Mr. Donnelly, Thomas Donnelly, and the boy passing the night before, about sundown; I thought they were driving too fast for the roads; I couldn't tell which was driving, I took no particular notice; from the rate of the speed that they were going and the state of the road, I concluded that they had drank a little too much liquor, and for that reason I thought that the burning was accidental when I heard of it in the morning; I did not know that Carroll got a carriage and went to look into the murder case; the Ryder burning case was the first case I ever had; I knew nothing about magisterial duties at all, and for that reason I spoke to Mr. Grant, and he spoke to Mr. Mowbray; Mr. Grant took down the evidence; the information on which the proceedings were taken was sworn before me; I was under the impression that I couldn't act as a magistrate unless an information was laid before me; I was not summoned as one of the parties for trespassing on old Mr. Donnelly's place; the meeting held the night before was to devise means to discover where Thompson's cow was hidden; the next morning Thompson told the crowd that Squire Stanley told him that he was to go on and search, and if he was hindered in his search to go back and he would give him a search warrant; when we went to Mr. Donnelly's the crowd told him what they came for; he said for them to go on and search, and that they could turn the last straw of the straw-stack over if they liked; John Donnelly had given us leave to go on before we saw the old man; the society that was formed at the church was for the purpose of putting down crimes and taking care of one another's property; it was calculated to suppress crime by all legal means; the book was opened in the church and anybody could sign it.[...]

Source: Public Archives of Ontario, Irving Fonds, F1027, 82 08, MS 6500, Unknown, Deposition of William Casey, 1880.

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