Page images

insolence dropped into guilty taciturnity and con- 1805. fusion, when he was charged in open Court, before the grand and petty jury, “ with having pro“ cured a sum of the public money to be paid to " him (Mr. Hart) by false and fraudulent pre'" tences : a sum of money, which he had pocket“ ted; which he had retained in his possession, " after Dobson had confessed the frauds, by which “ it had been procured: which he had in his "pocket at the time of his uttering those words “ to the jury, whose privacy he had shamefully " invaded, and who by law, and under the sanc- : “ tion of an oath, were debarred from all inter“ course, except with the leave of the court." Although the judge would have been warranted in committing Mr Hart instantly to the felon's dock for this audacious contempt of court, and of public justice, he merely (perhaps too leniently) directed Mr. Galbraith to institute a second prosecution against Mr. Hart for this second offence, which was so closely blended and interwoven with the first, as to form but one transaction. · The sequel of this grand contest between the Mr. Hare chaste administration of justice and the overbearing acquitted

5 by Donegal arrogance of provincial corruption, shews how neces- Grand Ju

ries. sary the stern virtue of the judge* was to vindicate

od Ju.

* If it be allowable to compare little with great things, it may be truly said of the Orange uscendancy, which pervaded Ulster and too many other parts of the island ; that in the progress of their destructive career, they beheld cuncta terrarum subacta, præter atrocem animum Catonis. “ The world subdued, save the " inexorable mind of Cato.”


1505. the honour and enforce the efficiency of national

justice. At the next assizes, Mr. Hart was tried for the offence of procuring access to, and tampering with the petty jury, with intent to obstruct and prevent the public justice of the country. At the trial the fact was most satifactorily proved, and after an able charge from Mr. Baron Smith, the jury retired, and after a long deliberation, brought in a finding, that Mr. Hart was guilty of speaking the words laid in the indictment, but not with any evil intention. The judge refus. ed to receive this finding, as being imperfect and insensible. The jury were sent back to reconsider the verdict, and soon returned with a verdict, acquitting Mr. Hart generally: not being able to infer any improper intention from the conduct of Mr. Hart, in obtruding on the privacy of the jury. At the same assizes (Spring 1904) a bill of indictment was sent up to the Grand Jury, charging Mr. Hart with having fraudulently, and by false 12 pretences, procured the sum of £45. to be paid to him by the treasurer of Donegal. The bill was ignored by the Donegal Grand Jury!!! Dobson was again tried at the assizes and found guilty of fraudulently procuring the money to be paid to Mr. Hart. Thus, after a hard fought contest, the fact of fraud was at last established by the verdict of a jury. Yet Mr. Hart retains that money, which has been stamped by the verdict of a jury of the country, in which he lives, to have been the wages. of falsehood, deception and fraud. Such was the subject matter of that famous petition of Mr.


Grand Jury


Hart, presented to both Houses of Parliament, 1905. introduced under such high and mighty authority, as to threaten destruction to the fortune, and, what he more highly valued, the honour and character of Mr. Judge. Fox. The next article of complaint was, “ That the Charge of

- partially " said Luke Fox, at Lifford, on the same circuit, nilling “ did, contrary to law, take upon himself to nill present“ divers presentments, that the Grand Jury, on - their oaths, made for the repair of roads, al“ though the said presentments were, in all res“pects, agreeable to law, alledging, as the only

ground for such conduct, that the name of " James Hamilton, Esq. was affixed as an over“ seer to said presentments.”. The proof of this charge rested solely upon the evidence of Mr. Hart, who deposed before the Committee of the House of Lords : “ that the jury having been

" read over, Mr. J. Fox proceeded to read and : " pass the presentments, in doing which he seem

“ed a good deal irritated, and particularly cap" tious with Lord Abercorn's agent, Mr. Hamil“ ton, a gentleman of very high respectability, * “ whose presentments Mr. Fox set aside and nil“ led, assigning no other reason, than that the " name of James Hamilton appeared endorsed as “ an overseer.” Mr. Hart was then questioned by one of the Lords, whether Mr. J. Fox assigned that as his reason, or say, that was his on


• He has recently been knighted for his services by the Duke of Richmond, when on a visit to Lord Abercorn.


1805. ly reason for nilling the presentment, on which

Mr. Hamilton's name appeared indorsed as overseer? to which he answered, “He did. As soon “ as he saw the name of James Hamilton, he “ threw it aside, and said : He shall be no over

seer. And he did so with all the presentments, " that bore the name of James Hamilton, as " overseer, endorsed upon them.” Such is the evidence of Mr. Hart. The fact is, that Mr. J. Fox nilled only one presentment, that bore the name of James Hamilton endorsed as an overseer, and passed all the others, and there were several, which were so endorsed, as appears by the records of the county of Donegal, where several presentments indorsed with the name of James Hamilton passed at those assizes, may be seen. The other part of Mr. Hart's evidence was contradicted by every other witness examined to that point: yet it is matter of notoriety in the county of Donegal, that when Mr. J. Fox nilled that single presentment, he gave distinctly, in open Court, the reasons, why he he felt it his duty to nill it. And they were as follows. That presentment was indorsed with two names as overseers, viz. James Hamilton and James M‘Ganigle. The latter was known to the judge to be a man neither of property nor character : had been employed by James Hamilton in the capacity of what is called an acting overseer, for several years, in and about the town of Strabane, where Mr. James Hamilton re

• Vid. printed evidence, p. 30.


sided; and particularly on the great road of com- :1805., munication between Dublin and Derry, between Omagh and Strabane, to the repair of which, immense sums had been granted by the grand jury of the county of Tyrone ; and the road, which lay on the circuit, as to a considerable part of it, then was as it had been for years almost impassible. So. glaring had the misconduct of this M’Ganigle become, that informations were at length sworn . against him for the most shameful frauds practised by him in his trade of overseer. For some time he absconded from justice. When he reappeared, a bill of indictment was preferred against him, though ignored by the grand jury. All this was fully known to Mr. Judge Fox, and that knowledge imposed upon him the indispensible obligation of objecting to his reappearing in his old character of overseer, notwithstanding the ignoramus of a Donegal grand jury, over which the judge also knew how far the influence of Mr James Hamilton * and Mr. James Galbraith ex

• Mr. (now Sir) James Hamilton, was one of the leading of ficers of that numerous host of witnesses, which Mr. Pitt was prevailed on by the most noble Marquis of Abercorn to subsidize for the confederated expedition against the fortune, character and virtue of an upright judge. He was largely paid out of the public purse for his attendance, time and expences to and from Westminster and Strabane, but was not brought into action. After private examinations and rehearsals he was not approved of by the inspecting officer in England, and was not permitted to present himself at the bar of the House of Lords. Not so with his co-agent to the Marquis, Mr. James Galbraith. He went through a long examination; and as a part of his evidence

« PreviousContinue »