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Derry Assizes, Co. Londonderry, April 1815

Extracted from the Strabane Morning Post, April 11, 1815
Transcribed, Compiled and Submitted by
Len Swindley, Melbourne, Australia

April 4, 1815

On Wednesday evening last, the Hon. Baron McCLELLAND arrived in this City, and at nine o’clock on Thursday morning, opened the Commission in the Crown Court, when the following Grand Jury were sworn:

Major-General Sir William PONSONBY, Foreman.

Rt. Hon. Sir G. HILL, Bart

Joseph CURRY, Esqr.

George DAWSON, Esqr.

Thos. SCOTT, Foyle Hill, Esqr.

Henry ……. BERESFORD, Esqr.

John ROSS, Esqr.


Samuel LYLE, Esqr.

Andrew KNOX, Esqr.

Andrew FERGUSON, Esqr.

William LECKY, Esqr.

Richard HUNTER, Esqr.

Langford HEYLAND, Esqr.

John BOYLE, Esqr.

Conolly GAGE, Esqr.

George BAMBER, Esqr.

Hugh LYLE, Esqr.

David STARK, Esqr.

William ALEXANDER, Esqr.

John A. SMYTH, Esqr.

Thos. SCOTT, Willsborough, Esqr.

James HAMILL, Esqr.



The Court was occupied the greater part of Thursday, in the trial of persons concerned in illicit distillation, ..?? [illegible] of whom were convicted, and sentenced to imprisonment and fines according to their different degrees of guilt, after which the following persons were tried, viz.:

OWEN KELLY, CHARLES KELLY, HUGH KELLY, JOHN McKINNY, and HUGH KANE, were indicted for riotously assembling on the road between Faughanvale and Ballykelly, in the month of November last, and attempting to rescue a prisoner out of the custody of Mr. WHITTLE, a Revenue Officer, and a party of dragoons, who were escorting him to Newtownlimavady. Same OWEN KELLY, was also indicted under Lord Ellenborough’s Act for feloniously firing at Mr. WHITTLE, with intent to wound and maim him. The capital charge was not supported, but all the prisoners were found guilty of the riot and after the most severe and …….? [illegible] lecture from the learned Judge, were sentenced to the following punishments:

OWEN KELLY, to be imprisoned in the gaol of Derry, for 18 calendar months, to be twice publically whipped during his imprisonment between the hours of twelve and one o’clock on Wednesday the 12th day of April from the gaol to the Court-house and back again; and the second time, between the hours of twelve and one, on the last Wednesday of his confinement, and to give security for his good behaviour for 7 years, particularly to THOMAS WHITTLE, himself in £500 and two securities £200 each. CHARLES KELLY, HUGH KELLY, and JOHN McKINNY, each to be imprsioned twelve calendar months, and to give security for good behaviour, each in £100, and two securies of £50 each.

HUGH KANE to be imprisoned 15 calendar months, and to give like security.

RICHARD CARRAN and MICHAEL KANE, indicted for attacking the house of one MOORE, for arms, breaking into it, and robbing him of a gun, were found guilty, and sentenced to be executed on 3rd of May.

JOHN McFARLAND, found guilty of picking pockets, to be burned in the hand, and imprisoned 9 months.

DUNCAN McVEA was capitally indicted for attacking and robbing a Post-office express, conveying a letter from Sir GEORGE HILL to JOHN ROSS, Esq., of Newtownlimavady.

It appeared that the indictment for the felony could not be maintained under the Post-office Act, the prisoner was, therefore, only convicted of the assault.

Nothing can more strongly mark the audacity of the disturbers of the public peace in this country, than the above outrage, which was committed for the purpose of obtaining a knowledge of what the Magistracy were doing, as the letter contained important information relative to one of the late murders.

The trial of the murderers of ALEXANDER HASSAN was postponed, on the part of the Crown, until next Assizes. This is a case of great enormity, which it would not however, become us to make any comments upon at the present time.

ROGER DEMPSIE, was indicted for being present on the night of Wednesday, the 23rd of November late, aiding and assisting at the murder of MICHAEL McNICHOLL

The first witness produced was ROSE McNICHOLL, the widow of the deceased……..[very lengthy detalis of the trial of the murder of MICHAEL McNICHOLL of Tarnakelly[Tartnakilly?]]……..other witnesses called were GRACE, ANN and MARY McNICHOLL, daughters of the deceased.

On Sunday last, he confessed his crime in the gaol in the presence of the Rev. DAVID CURRY, Sir GEORGE HILL, GEORGE DAWSON, and BARRIE BERESFORD, Esq., and stated that he was present at the murder, and had been induced to go into the house of McNICHOLL, under the obligation of his oath, as is a Ribbon-man.

Yesterday, DEMPSIE was executed at Cumber Claudy, on a gallows, erected for the purpose.