Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown. I will not do a recital of my great attributes and genius as I refer to it further down this blog. And my readers may learn a new word, in the process. My big story this week is of a cow from Barrystown, sold by Jonas King. I am puzzled how I could have lived at Barrystown for nine years and have not heard of Jonas in one of his many controversies and escapades.
The People reported on Saturday April 16th 1881:–
“Thomas J. Lyons, Main Street, summoned Jonas King, Barrystown, for maliciously destroying a silk hat on 1st April, the property of plaintiff.
Defendant did not appear. Plaintiff deposed defendant came into his shop; took his silk hat off the peg; kicked it down the street and destroyed it; the value of the hat was 16 shillings.
The Bench ordered defendant to pay 15 shillings; fined him 10 shillings and 6 pence and costs or in default, 14 days imprisonment.”
It is important to point out that Jonas had effectively gone out of his mind at this time—his death was near. It would not be normal behaviour for him. I was tempted to amend the evidence and write that Jonas went on a solo run, toe to hand and kicked the hat into an imaginary net. On Friday evening the 5th of August 1881, (according to the People August 10th, 1881) Jonas was found in a sitting posture, close to Balloughton Church “life being extinct.” The inquest returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony; foul play not suspected. The local lore (maybe more than lore) says that he died in Sheastown.
I am sure that Tom Boyse would have organised an old folks party in the hall at Carrig-on-Bannow each year at Christmas: I have no documentary evidence of this but I take it for granted that the patriot of Bannow would not have forgot the old people of his locality at Christmas—some things (like some propositions in the geometry that we learned at the Christian Brothers School in Enniscorthy) are axioms, that is not requiring proof or so obvious that it is not possible to prove it. The greatness of the boy from Barrystown is an apt example but I am too modest to pursue that thread of logic.
On March 1st 1854 Jonas King of Barrystown sold a cow to Bill Martin, a butcher in Enniscorthy, for £12 and 5 shillings; Martin paid Jonas £7 and 5 shillings on that day and “promised £5.” If Jonas had instead of selling the cow, had given it to Tom Boyse’s fund to provide the Christmas party for the old folks, he would have saved himself paying £50 in compensation to Martin and losing his post of Justice of the Peace. Besides, he would not have made himself look a thorough fool. It would embarrass a senile ass.
At the summer Assizes in Wexford in July 1860 Mr William Ryan Q. C. [Queen’s Counsel] told the court that William Martin, an Enniscorthy butcher, was the plaintiff in the case and he was seeking damages for wrongful imprisonment and a related malicious assault; the defendant was Jonas King J. P. [Barrystown] and the damages sought against him were £200. Jonas claimed in defence that he had reasonable cause and acted without malice. The amount sought was an utter exaggeration: one would be lucky to be falsely imprisoned if one could get that kind of compensation! The result of the case proves, conclusively, that stories that mushroom regularly, that landlords could shoot the lowly tenants and labourers at will, just as they would shoot partridge, rabbits, etc, are completely untrue. The law applied to all in nineteenth century as this case shows.
Mr Rolleston Q. C. then arose to address the court and got knotted up in small details. He thought that the learned Judge wanted the case to be covered in four hours but the Judge intervened to say that he did not fix any length of time for the case. Actually, he could not do that. Mr Rolleston described Martin as a butcher for some years; his father was, also, a butcher in Enniscorthy for many years before him. The defendant was a Magistrate “in a district called—he could not pronounce the queer names, as his Lordship had yesterday observed, to be found in this county, but it appeared as Duncormuck….”
I presume that Duncormuck is near to Duncormack/Duncormick but Jonas was not as a Magistrate tied exclusively to any one court as he, also, sat on the bench at Taghmon Petty Sessions. Mr Rolleston stated that Jonas went to a brother Magistrate and cousin, Christian Wilson [of Sledagh, I think] and swore certain informations, some years previously; and Mr Wilson issued a warrant (not proper legal procedure) against Martin (to arrest him, I presume).
Bill Martin married against his father’s wishes and consequently, his father excised him from his will—he did not receive a farthing from it (Or so Mr Rolleston claimed). I suspect that the Martins were Quakers but I could be wrong. They would have strict rules about their offspring marrying. Young Martin then began life on his own account with little capital. Mr Rolleston then outlined the buying of the cow at Taghmon on March 1st 1854; Jonas did not object to the balance of £5 left to be paid (or so Mr Rolleston said).
In that March 1854 Bill Martin got into serious financial difficulties and in June 1854 he went to America to see his wife’s brother in the hope “of inducing him to help him out of difficulties”. In September of that year he returned home unsuccessful, (as one might expect!)
He resumed his business in Enniscorthy and got credit from his neighbours who deemed him an honest man. The debt to Jonas was never paid but—the next best thing, I suppose—it was never denied or repudiated,” The next piece of Mr Rolleston’s address is pure drama or farce depending on one’s opinion:
“On the 2nd of May 1860, plaintiff [Martin] was at the fair of Taghmon in this county and in the course of his day’s business he was seen by the defendant Mr King and at the time the plaintiff was paying for some pigs in the open street. He, also, bought some sheep and whilst so engaged a Constable named Gray came up to him and said he had a warrant to arrest him. He being surprised asked how that was, or what the warrant was for, and Gray replied it was on a charge of swindling Mr King out of £5. Mr King was not then by or there, but the warrant was signed by a Mr Wilson, and the plaintiff was taken to the police barrack and there kept in custody for how long, Counsel could not immediately say, but detained he was, as would be proved in evidence. After some time Mr King and Mr Wilson, both Magistrates of the county, came to the police barracks and the plaintiff, as counsel was instructed, at once said he never had denied the debt and that it was his determination to pay it. On being asked would he give bail to do so, plaintiff said he would not, being as he considered illegally arrested. On being asked was there any person in Taghmon whom he knew he said he knew a Mr Sides and a Mr Dunne hotel keeper. On being told to try would they go bail for him and that unless security was given for the debt the warrant would be put in force, the plaintiff in the custody of a policeman went to look for these parties and found Mr Sides, who at once said the law must be changed else his arrest could not have taken place but he (Sides) went with him to the Barrack and in order to get the plaintiff out of custody, he signed an I. O. U. for £5; Mr King, himself, drawing it, who seemed to know more about those things than the Magistrate, Mr Wilson, who Mr King asked, how should he draw it, and who only said he should be begin with three big letters, I. O. U. and then Mr King went on and drew it. The plaintiff refused to sign it but Sides did sign it and on its being handed to Mr King he put it into his pocket and plaintiff was told he might go away. Had it not being for Mr Sides, the plaintiff must have remained under the charge he repudiated of having swindled Mr King and been placed under durance of a charge he was never guilty of—and Counsel must say, while he did it with regret, that on the occasion the Magistrates prostituted their functions in turning a purely civil business into a criminal one.”
To translate the above: the issue was an unpaid debt and to recover it the only legal procedure available to Jonas was to apply to the courts. The case would be heard in court and the court on the presented evidence would make a decision. Jonas had no power to arrest Martin or to issue a warrant for his arrest. If Martin had committed a criminal act, say that of murder, the law might be different.
Counsel for the plaintiff, Mr Martin, Mr Walsh Q. C. examined Bill Martin. The latter told of buying the cow at Taghmon on March 1st 1854 and how a balance of £5 remained; he told Jonas that he would see him in Wexford at the Packet office but did not name the time nor did he see Jonas there. The obvious impression from his evidence is that he was pinched for money and the balance of the payment to Jonas was probably intended by him to be postponed indefinitely….It is important to state that as Jonas was—morally at least—entitled to be annoyed about the non-payment of the £5 six years later. He claimed to have dealt with Jonas on four previous occasions and paid him in full. Bill Martin said that he killed the cow and sold the meat in the course of usual business. He had recently married (with the unspoken expectation that this event would aggravate his financial woes). On the 18th of March 1854, to avoid “being processed by some creditors” he went by Dublin to Liverpool. His wife carried on the business in Enniscorthy while he was away. In June 1854 he went from Liverpool to New York. Hybridising the accounts in the People and the Wexford Independent we may deduce that he went to his sister and her husband in New York, hoping to obtain financial help from them. He returned to Enniscorthy on September 29th 1854 and his wife was in the same house. He said that he was 18 days returning in the Fidelia.
On his return he resumed in his business again and had carried it on ever since plus attending fairs. He was never out of the country again. His father died in April 1857. Jonas then wrote a letter to him asking for his £5 “and stated as my father had died and left or willed me something that I would send him the £5.” Martin, naturally, did not answer this letter and lost the letter sent to him by Jonas. There is a significant divergence between the accounts in the newspapers on the next detail. According to the Wexford Independent, Martin said that he next met Jonas at the fair of Foulksmills on May 17th (he thought) 1854 and told Jonas that he would pay, “but fixed no time and defendant (Jonas) said he did not doubt him.” I presume that he said that out of politeness. According to the account in the People, Martin said that he told Jonas that he got nothing out of his father’s assets; “and [Jonas] said that he believed me.” Martin added that he “never got a farthing out of his father’s assets until last week, there being a dispute with his brother”. This detail conflicts with the assertion of Mr Rolleston that his father had completely disinherited him. He continued testimony illustrates the sheer hardship of doing any business or work in that era:–
“I went to the fair of Taghmon the 2nd of May this year; I left home about four o’clock in the morning and arrived in Taghmon about seven o’clock; I bought seven pigs, two sheep and one lamb; I bought the pigs opposite the Police Barracks; I saw the defendant whilst I was buying the pigs; I, also, saw him about twelve o’clock, when I was paying for them; between twelve and one o’clock I was standing on the road near the chapel, when a policeman of the name of Richard Byrne, called me and brought me up to the Police Barrack; I me Head-Constable Gray at the door; he pulled out a paper and read it for me; I was then brought into the kitchen of the Barracks; every policeman there was dressed as Constables. I was in the Barrack an hour before I saw the defendant; when I saw defendant, he was in company with Mr Christian Wilson; I know the defendant to be a Magistrate; I read of his appointment to the commission of the peace in the newspapers; I cannot tell if Mr Wilson is a Magistrate, they were in the Barrack room when I was called from the yard; Mr King was sitting on a policeman’s box and Mr Wilson was sitting at a table…”
On a point of fact Christian Wilson, a first cousin of Jonas, was a Magistrate—he had made out the warrant to arrest Martin. According to the report in the Wexford Independent Martin said that he read of the appointment of Jonas as J. P. in that paper!
Mr Wilson then asked Martin his name, residence and business—he replied that he was a butcher; he added—
“Mr Wilson then pointed with his finger and asked why I did not pay Mr King his £5; I said I never denied it; Mr Wilson then asked did I know any one in Taghmon….I said Mr Sides or Mr Dunne, the hotel-keeper. Mr Wilson then asked would they go bail for me to pay the money to Mr King; I said I thought they would; Mr Wilson then told me to go down to Mr Sides and ask him; he said he should commit me if I did not get bail…”
The ignorance of legal procedure shown in this interrogation by Christian Wilson was astonishing: he had no legal power to ask any of these questions or to threaten committal—imprisonment—on Mr Martin. He was utterly over-reaching himself. It was unlawful detention and any Magistrate should have known that. I will let Mr Martin continue his story:–
“Sergeant Greene accompanied me to Mr Sides’s house; he was dressed as a policeman; Mr Sides came back with me to the Barrack; defendant and Wilson had gone out but returned in about a quarter of an hour after; when Mr Wilson came back he asked Mr Sides would he go bail £5 for me; Mr Sides said he would. Mr Wilson then said, “Sit down there, King and draw up an I. O. U.” Mr King drew it up; I did not see it at all. I cannot identify the one produced; I saw Sides sign a paper that defendant drew up; before defendant drew it up he asked Mr Wilson how would he draw it; Mr Wilson said head it with three large letters I. O. U. Mr Wilson then said I ought to pass my I. O. U. to Mr Sides and I said I would not; Head-Constable Gray never left the room; as soon as the I. O. U. was signed Mr King put it in his waistcoat pocket. Mr Wilson said to Head-Constable Gray, “You may discharge Martin now.” Head-Constable Gray told me I might go; it was then between three and four o’clock; I went back to Enniscorthy that night; there was no paper read to me but the one Head-Constable Gray read.
Mr Martin said that he returned to Enniscorthy “but not by the conveyance he came out upon”. Had he hired a car (to use the grandiose term often used then)? Did he walk the animals back? It would be exceedingly difficult to do that. I am unsure how it would have taken him three hours to get to Taghmon from Enniscorthy.
He was then examined by Mr Armstrong, Counsel for Mr King. Much the same information—the journey to New York in the Fidelia, as a steerage passenger cost £3; he came back in the same ship. He ran away from Enniscorthy to avoid creditors that were pressing on him. He denied that he was expecting a thousand dollars from his brother-in-law in New York; actually got no money from him. To clarify matters he claimed that he bought a cow from Mr King once before (March 1854); when he said that he bought cows on four occasions he meant from Jonas and his father (the Rev. Richard King of Woodville, Duncormack). He went into circumlocutions—most evasive ones—on his promise to pay Jonas:-
“the first time I bought from Mr King I did not tell him I would leave the money with Mr Leared; but I said I would meet him in the Packet Office; did not name any day; I owed £125 when I got the cow from Mr King.” He spoke of having an auction before he left Enniscorthy “to take up a bill in the National Bank.” He had paid off some of his debts since he returned from America and he described that to Mr King as “an honest debt”! He had owed £125 on the day he bought the cow from Mr King.
In puzzling semantics—or logic, I am unsure which—he claimed:–
“I had £22 with me in the fair the day I was arrested, besides some of my own; the seven pigs were paid for out of my own money; I had money about me, but it was borrowed money; I did tell Sides I had no money of my own.”
I will resume the account of this bizarre court hearing in my next blog. The jury found that Jonas had not acted with malicious intention but that he had falsely imprisoned Mr William Martin. They awarded Mr Martin £50 and six pence damages. Jonas would have to sell four cows to pay that amount of compensation. He had still not recovered his £5 from Bill Martin! He would have to resign as Magistrate because his action would have brought the office into disrepute. My honest opinion was that Martin would never pay the £5 balance owed to Jonas; he came across in court as a shifty personality, probably beset by debts but whose word one would not rely on. I think that Jonas calculated that a show of Magisterial authority (however bogus and laughable) would frighten Martin into paying the debt—he or Christian Wilson (who as first cousin of Jonas may have felt obliged to do as Jonas asked) assumed that Mr Martin would not be greatly cognizant of legal matters and therefore unlikely to challenge them in the courts. In the nineteenth century as British governments extended the legal rights of ordinary citizens, bullying, autocratic and arbitrary exercise of power by landlords, Magistrates, opulent men etc became a risky matter, in terms of legal consequences. Jonas could have gone to a solicitor and have Martin charged in court with non-payment of the debt: the snag there may have been an apprehension by Jonas that Martin would either go to jail or insist that he had no money to pay the debt. The moral of this story is that if one is selling a cow— do not part with it until the full price is paid. And always beware cows from Barrystown….