Antecedents of the Convicts – 18671127

As none of the convicts lived long in Manchester, or had many acquaintances here, circumstances relating to their antecedents are not easily obtained. Allen was a native of Bandon, in the county of Cork. He had a few relations living in Manchester or the neighbourhood, and he came here in search of work as a joiner about the end of the year 1864. He obtained employment in the yard of one of the principle builders in the city, and for a time his habits were those of an ordinarily industrious working man. He made several acquaintances among his fellow countrymen, and secured the affections of a young woman of a respectable family; and there was every prospect that, but for his unfortunate connection with the Fenian movement, he would have ultimately married the girl. When or where he enrolled a Fenian is not known, but for a considerable time he had done very little work, and during that time he has been considered one of the most active agents of the movement in Manchester. When the meeting took place at which it was decided that an attempt should be made to rescue Kelly and Deasy, Allen was not present. He had gone a short time before on a mission to Dublin, and he returned from that city in time to take part in the attack upon the van. O’Brien, alias Gould, was the most active and intelligent man engaged in the outrage. He was well built, fairly educated, and by birth and sympathy an Irish American. It is believed that he had no relations in this country and few friends. The only person who attempted to visit him whilst in prison was the witness Miss Flannagan, who was called to prove alibi for him. It will be remembered that in her cross-examination Miss Flannagan denied having any acquaintance with Gould; her subsequent conduct, however, leads to the supposition that she knew him very well, for when she was refused admission to the prison, as not being related to the convict, she expressed her disappointment very keenly. O’Brien had had some military experience as a sergeant in the same regiment as Colonel Kelly in the United States army, and he was best known among the Fenians as Captain O’Brien. He is known to have been last autumn in Dublin and Liverpool, where he associated with Fenians; and at the last winter assizes in Liverpool he was tried, with two or three others, on a charge of his having in his possession a number of rifles belonging to the government. The rifles had been found in a cellar, with three boxes of phosphorous, one of the principal constituents of Greek or Fenian fires. Gould and his companions were on that occasion acquitted. Since that time he has frequently travelled between England and Ireland on Fenian business, and, from the information that can now be gathered of him, he is supposed to have been a very active organiser of Fenian circles. As to Larkin, there can be little doubt that he was the victim of such men as O’Brien. Of the five who were convicted he was the only married man, and till within the last year or two there is reason to believe that he behaved like a respectable working man. He had a wife and four children, and for three or four years he lived in one street in Manchester, carrying on business of an operative tailor. Recently he became an active Fenian, and in one of the Manchester circles he acted as a collector of subscriptions. He has not done much work for several months, and a few weeks ago, just before his apprehension, he was on the out-door relief list of the Chorlton Guardians. The man Condon, alias Shore, who was reprieved, excelled all the other convicts in his endeavours to promote the Fenian cause; and we can only suppose that it was the circumstance that he had not been proved to have had a revolver in his hands that led the government to listen to the intercessions which we hear Mr. Adams presented to the British Government on his behalf. Like O’Brien, he was an Irish American, and had no friends in this country. Like O’Brien, too, he served in the United States army during the recent war, when he held a commission as a captain. It has for a long time been supposed that he was a Fenian organiser; he has frequently been seen in Manchester, Liverpool, and Dublin; and when the rade [sic] was made upon Chester he took a number of men from Manchester to assist in the enterprise. It is also believed that he and another of those who were acquitted were the actual organisers of the attack upon the van. Condon has occupied himself since his conviction in writing an analysis of the evidence given on the trial against himself. It is a shrewd, skilful presentation of his own case. The principal paragraph in it is the following: – “It was not fair to bring me up for trial in the first batch, Allen having over 30 witnesses, Larkin 20, Gould 15, and Maguire 10 against him; while there were but five against me, and while others (Nugent and William Martin) had 10 or 12 each against them, and others had as many against them as I had. There can be no doubt that, in the absence of sufficient proof against me, the prosecution brought me up for trial with those I have named in order that the overwhelming testimony against them would prejudice the minds of the jury against me, who was brought up in their company; and I believe that, had I not been an American citizen, this would not have been done.” After remarking upon the evidence, he concludes: – “Therefore, by every principle of fair play and justice, I too, should be discharged from custody.” A copy of this statement was, we believe, forwarded to London. – Manchester Guardian.

Antecedents of the convicts - Cork Constitution18671127

Cork Constitution, November 27, 1867