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!! Connaught Journal; Mar 29, 1824 "Antrim Assizes"

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  • Cathy Joynt Labath
    THE CONNAUGHT JOURNAL Galway, Monday, March 29, 1824 OPENING LETTERS IN THE POST-OFFICE _____ ANTRIM ASSIZES James Donnelly was indicted for conspiring with
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 6, 2003
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      Galway, Monday, March 29, 1824

      James Donnelly was indicted for conspiring with Thos. Ashenhurst, of the
      Belfast Post-Office, in August last, to secret a letter addressed to "R.
      Marshall, Ayr," containing a £20 Note of the Edinburg Commercial Banking
      Company; also (2nd indictment) for knowingly receiving the said Bank Note of
      £20, which had been abstracted from a letter by Thomas Ashenhurst, who was
      employed in the Post-Office, in Belfast.
      Thomas Ashenhurst (approver) proved that, in August he was in the
      Post-Office, Belfast; he was about a year in that situation; his duty was to
      sort and give out letters at the merchants' side; has known prisoner from the
      third or fourth day after he went to the Post-Office; he was about the Office
      with another Clerk; they were often together; Donnelly lived in an entry, off
      William-street; prisoner told witness that the boys who were in the Post-Office
      before him had been in the habit of opening letters, and were never found out;
      and he encouraged him to do the same; witness opened several letters; in one he
      found 5l. in another 10l. in another 3l. in another 2l. in another 1l; Donnelly
      got one-half the money, by agreement; recollects one letter directed to Robert
      Marshall, Ayr, which contained a 20l. Scotch Note, and a 1l. 1s. Note; gave them
      to Donnelly next day, who proposed to go to Scotland to get the large one
      changed, that it might not be detected in Belfast; he was to pay his passage
      with the 1l. 1s. Note; he said to witness that he had his passage taken; this
      was on Sunday, the 3d; he was to sail on the Monday following; when he gave the
      20l. to Donnelly, the latter was to return to him ten pounds.
      Cross-examined-Does not recollect the directions of the other letters he
      opened; the date of witness's indenture was September 23, 1822; witness went
      with some of the money to the Theatre; he was before the Grand Jury, but was not
      told that if he told the truth against Donnelly, he would get off; was told by
      his father that if Donnelly was found guilty, he (witness) would get off; his
      father told him he learned this from a gentleman of the Dublin Post-Office.
      Other witnesses were examined, whose testimony left no doubt of the
      prisoner's crime.
      The Learned Judge summed up the evidence at considerable length. His
      Lordship highly complimented Mr. Harday, the superintendent of the Glasgow
      Post-Office, and the Police-Officer from Glasgow, for the perspicuity of their
      evidence, as well as for their sagacity and promptitude. The Jury then withdrew,
      and returned with a verdict of - Guilty.
      This awful result did not appear to have been contemplated by the unhappy
      young man, who did not appear to be more than 17 years of age. He appeared
      petrified for some moments, and afterwards retired to the back of the dock in an
      agony of tears; he was finally carried to prison in a dreadful state of
      agitation; his moanings being distinctly heard in Court while he was conveyed
      through the adjoining passages to gaol, occasioning a thrill of horror which
      pervaded a very crowded Court.

      Cathy Joynt Labath
      Ireland Old News
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