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The Incident at Newtown Barry, June 18, 1831

The following is an account of the events and the role that Adam Bloomfield Feltus played in the events as assembled from various witness testimonies at a Coroner’s Inquest held at Newtown Barry from June 20 to June 29, 1831 at which an indictment of murder against Captain Graham and his yeomen was decided and at the Wexford Assizes on July 16 when the jury found that the accused were only doing their duty.  However, the public response to the shooting forced the Irish Government to criticize Captain Graham's use of the Yeomen, many of them Orangemen, to control a Catholic public protest rather than using professional soldiers.  The government then appointed a replacement magistrate when his term was complete.  In the House of Lords, the Earl of Wicklow made a motion critical of the Irish Government's position but it was defeated.  The discussion on the motion is rather tedious but it gives some good information about the events which followed the incident and the arguments given in support of or critical of Graham's and the Government's actions.

The original Parliamentary Reports on this incident are available online in Parliamentary Papers Volume 15.  The report on the Coroner's Inquest starts on page 399 and the report on the trial at Wexford starts on page 455. 

See the discussion on these events in The House of Lords as published in Hansard.

See also my summary of those documents at Individual Testimonies Given at the Inquest and Summary of the Trial at the Wexford Assizes.


Summary of the Events

John Ralph, a shopkeeper of Newtown Barry, was the tithe agent for the Rev. Alexander McClintock.  The Rev’d. had made a claim against Patrick Doyle for non-payment of his church tithes.  Doyle maintained that he was fully paid up and the money was not owed.  They could not agree and McClintock instructed Ralph to seize such cattle from Doyle as would be appropriate in place of the tithes which were due him.  Ralph then seized two small heifers from Doyle and also one heifer from Nowlan for tithes that he also owed.  He placed the cattle in the Newtown Barry pound and announced that they would be sold on the following Saturday, June 18th to raise the tithes owed.

On June 17th a man was seen carrying a placard through the town stating that the sale the next day would be selling their neighbour’s cattle for tithe.  That concerned him enough that he made application to three magistrates, Captain Graham, Major George St. George Irvine and Mr. John Derenzy to provide assistance to prevent the ‘rescue’ of the cattle the next day when they were brought to auction. 

John Meylard, a labourer of Newtown Barry, later testified that he had been paid a shilling to carry a placard through the marketplace by Patrick Doyle’s son that day although, being unable to read, he did not know what the sign said. 

On Saturday at about noon, Ralph with two bailiffs, James Gregan and Ed Swaine, brought the cattle from the pound to the market place in Newton Barry.  When they arrived there he left the cattle in the bailiff’s care and went to Captain Graham’s house to talk to Rev’d. McClintock.   There was a large crowd gathered in the market place and he saw a person walking through the crowd with a sign saying ‘This sale is for tithe’.  When the placard appeared the crowd began to shout and moved from the market place out towards the middle of the square.  The cattle were seen to move along with then and the bailiffs were not seen to be guarding them.  Ralph called to the crowd to be calm and to let the sale go on and that if they had a concern they should let it be settled in a legal manner.  Several of the people said that the sale should proceed and they did not appear to be driving the cattle away from the market.  Later people stated that the cattle had just been left alone by the bailiffs, they had started to wander home and the crowd just went along with them out of curiosity to see what would happen now.  He went back to look for the bailiffs and the crowd moved on up the Enniscorthy Road. 

Ralph went back to the local magistrate, Captain Graham’s, house to request assistance.  The Chief Constable of Wexford, Richard King, was also at the house.  He had received a requisition from the magistrates to be in Newtown Barry on the 17th and 18th of June “in consequence of expected riots”.  Graham told King that he and the police should have been down there sooner and directed him to go in pursuit of the cattle.  Mr. King said that he would have to be accompanied by a magistrate so Graham agreed to accompany him along with his force of about 37 police.  They then proceeded in the direction the crowd had gone which was in the direction of the pound.  Just before the pound they met a large force of men going into the town which greatly outnumbered them. Graham returned to his house to get his horse.  Mr. King halted his men and ordered them to load their rifles with ball shot.  Captain Graham rejoined their party and ordered King to take his men off the road.  They marched into the field and the crowd passed.  The police then got back onto the road and continued to look for the cattle.  They found them near to the pound and so decided to put them into the pound for the time being.  As they approached the pound the crowd returned from the town and approached the pound as well.  Another magistrate, Mr. Feltus appeared at that time and joined Captain Graham. 

Mr. Adam Bloomfield Feltus of Hollybrook House, co. Carlow and a magistrate of county Carlow had arrived there that day accompanied by 16 of his men and three Carlow policemen from Myshall to enforce the requisition for assistance from the other three magistrates. (see the full text of his testimony below)

Mr. King suggested that Captain Graham read the riot act but Graham said that he didn’t have the text of the act with him.  The crowd greatly increased with others from the town until Graham asked King if he considered his force to be sufficient and King said that he did not.  Graham then rode back to town to bring out the yeomanry.  Meanwhile Mr. Feltus had been talking to three prominent people in the crowd (one of whom he believed to be Mr. Doyle) and had learned about the difference of opinion on whether there actually were tithes due or not.  They explained that Doyle had been asked to pay three half-year tithes within the same year and that it was probably just a bookkeeping error.  Feltus suggested that this be settled by arbitration.  They agreed to that and proposed two people, Mr. S. Radcliffe and Mr. Robert Carey (note: these were both local Protestant gentlemen), who would represent Mr. Doyle.  Feltus then said he would go to talk to McClintock about arbitration and requested the crowd do nothing until he returned.  Soon though, Captain Graham returned from the town with a large force of over 100 yeomen with bayonets fixed  and lined them up in formation against the crowd which pressed up to them in protest at this treatment during a peaceable assembly.  The yeomen were said to poke their bayonets towards the people who approached them.  At some point a stone and perhaps several were thrown towards the yeomen although most people stated that none were seen to strike any men.  Graham called out to the crowd to keep calm and warned them that all the rifles were loaded with ball-cartridges.  The crowd yelled their defiance back.  Ralph then removed the cattle from the pound and escorted by Mr. King and the police started to move them back towards the town.  The yeomanry started to fall in behind the police when a single shot was heard.  There was testimony later that the shot was fired from a ditch behind the crown, that it was fired from a nearby grove of trees or that it was fired by a yeoman who had started an argument with a particular person in the crowd.  That was followed by two or three other shots and then a general discharge of shots broke out which lasted anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes according to various testimonies.  After the general firing ceased a few scattered shots were still heard.  Captain Graham testified that there had been no instructions to fire and in fact that he had ridden through his men trying to stop them but many other people testified that he had been approached by a yeoman, John Deacon of Ryland, who asked him for permission to fire as he felt they were being hard pressed.  Just after the first single shot was fired, Graham was seen to bend down and talk to Deacon and then he straightened up and gave the order to fire.  In any case, several witnesses described the scene they witnessed after the firing stopped.  Bodies were lying along the road, in ditches and across the fields. 

A Mrs. Mulrooney, who had been lying hidden in a ditch, stood up and walked briskly away when the firing stopped.  A yeoman stepped out from the others to get a better aim and while other yeomen yelled at him not to fire, he leveled his rifle and shot her in the back.  She later died.

Several people testified that they saw three yeoman in a group fire together towards a Miles Dillon who was running away across the field.  He was shot three times in the back and was killed.

One woman testified that she saw Moulton aim his gun at her but she hid behind a tree.  Seeing people falling around her, she ran out and was immediately wounded.  Michael Connors testified that he was wounded while laying face down hiding in a ditch.

John Meylard, who had testified that he had been the one who carried the placard through the marketplace, also testified that one Alec Jordan of the Newtown Barry yeomanry had told him that he had ‘marked’ him for carrying that sign.  Meylard had also been in the crowd and saw Alec Jordan locate him in the crowd when the firing started.  Meylard turned to run and was shot by Jordan through the shoulder but he was not killed.

Other people stated that the yeoman, Rogan, was actually shot by his fellow yeomen, John Moulton, when Rogan stepped out of line to get a better shot at a fleeing man and into the path of Moulton’s fire.

Mr. Feltus testified that he had returned with an agreement from McClintock to the arbitration proposal.  He claimed that if he had been given 10 minutes more he could have settled the whole affair.  He also testified that he had seen “nothing in the crowd’s demeanor calculated to excite fear” and that he had been able to enter into a rational discussion with them

The major issue was who had fired the first shot which both parties agreed was fired in isolation before the time that Graham may or may not have given the order to fire.  Some of the police force testified that they had seen a man fire the shot from behind a ditch and strike a yeoman, William Rogan.  A couple of shots were then fired in response and the man who first shot was struck and fell over backward.  Later a man was found shot at that location but he had no firearm with him although that may have been removed by another person in the confusion of the general firing.  They also testified that others in the crowd had been seen ‘leaping though the air’ shouting “We are the Graige fellows”.  No-one else but the police stated that they had seen any firearms in the hands of the crowd at all.  Several policemen even testified that they did not see any arms in the crowd at any time and felt that the crowd had been peaceable until provoked by the yeomen.

The other major issue was whether Captain Graham had indeed given the orders to fire.  He swore that he had not and his men supported him but many of the townspeople were adamant that he had.  An indication that he may have had an intent to fire was Graham’s orders that both the police and the yeomen load with ball-cartridges even prior to the events started to get out of hand.  If they had loaded with shot which would have been more normal for crowd control there would not have been as many deaths.

The cattle were not seen again anywhere after the incident.

Captain Graham, John Perrin, John Moulton and several others were charged with murder from these events but two weeks later the Grand Jury found that they were only performing their duties and they were acquitted.

William Kilfoyle was tried separately for the killing of Mary Mulrooney at the Spring Assizes of Wexford on March 3, 1832 but he was also acquitted; full transcript of the trial is at The Trial of William Kilfoyle

The above is my own account pieced together from the statements made by the witnesses to the events at the Grand Jury trial.  Their actual Individual Testimonies add more detail to the events.

Here is the printed full text of Adam Bloomfield Feltus' testimony:
Adam Bloomfield FeltusAdam Bloomfield Feltus

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This page was last updated 10/18/18