Detention Of Her Majesty’s Mail, And Imprisonment Of Voters. Irish Elections July 1841

This is the preamble to The Times report on the election in Ireland in July 1841. As can be seen from their use of the words ‘we’ and ‘our’ with regard to the Tories, they are fiercely pro-Tory, and very anti-Whig, anti-Catholic, and very, very anti-Daniel O’Connell. 

DUBLIN, FRIDAY, JULY 16. The Irish elections are now drawing to their close; the last act is being played out; and the finale, no matter what may be the result of the remaining contests, viz., in Carlow, Wexford, Longford, and Kerry counties, displays a series of triumphs which has struck confusion and dismay amongst the partisans of Ministers (if now they can be so called) here, whilst it has gladdened the hearts of all real lovers of good order, Roman Catholic as well as Protestant; and of the former class I can affirm that there are hundreds of the most intelligent [ always good to know that the ” most intelligent” Catholics vote Tory] who openly rejoice at the advent of a Conservative Government to power-a Government which will have the means as well as the will to carry measures of practical utility to the country.

From the first moment the names of the candidates were fairly before the public, I apprised you that the county of Dublin would be fairly wrested from the late Radical possessors of its representation; nor during the whole of this arduous contest was there at any period the slightest ground for altering my original impression, notwithstanding the great reduction in the Conservative majorities towards the close of the struggle. This temporary success was achieved by means wholly unlooked for by Messrs. Hamilton and Taylor, and under circumstances over which they had no control. In fact, faith was broken in some instances where it was least expected; and, as one instance, the numerous tenantry of Mr. George Woods, of Milverton, who had promised to vote with their landlord, had, prior to yesterday, been basely tampered with, and it was not until they had actually reached the hustings, and recorded their suffrages in favour of the Radicals, that Mr. Woods was made aware of their duplicity.

Our gains in Ireland, so far, are-

Dublin City ……. … … … 2

Dublin County … … ..…  2

Athlone … … … … ……..  1

Queen’s County … … … 1

Waterford City … …. ….  2


And our losses amount to the stupendous number of Kinsale … … … … 1  ! !

In all human probability we shall gain a seat in Carlow, despite Mr. O’Connell and the seditious priesthood of this county. Wexford County, I fear, is doubtful, owing to the reign of terror having already set in there;- still Mr. Morgan’s friends are sanguine of his success; but even suppose it lost, parties remain in the same position, the late members being both Radicals. Wicklow County will close this evening in the return of Colonel Acton and Mr. Howard, but as the official declaration is not yet made I have forborne adding it to the list of gains. Kerry will be a fierce struggle, and Mr. Blennerhassett’s success is problematical, the Kenmare influence [William Browne – O’Connell’s running mate was the brother of the Earl of Kenmare. The Kenmare estate amounted to over 91,000 acres in county Kerry in the 1870s as well as over 22,000 acres in county Cork and over 4000 in county Limerick.] being thrown into the scale to prop up the return of Mr. M. J. O’Connell [Morgan John – Dan’s nephew]. From the dreadful system of intimidation and brute violence which alone carried the election of Cork city and county, Clare, Louth, Mallow, Kinsale, Tipperary, and Longford, it is only to be expected, as the defeated candidates in all these places intend prosecuting petitions to try the validity of the returns, that some further gains will be added to the Conservative phalanx, and that before the ensuing Christmas it will be found that Ireland (” Sir Robert Peel’s chief difficulty”) will have added 10 votes- 20 on a division-to the already glorious Conservative majority.

I have in the foregoing expressed a doubt as to Mr. Blennerhassett’s success in Kerry; but if Government permit such lawless proceedings to pass with impunity as are sketched in the subjoined authorized statement in the Dublin Evening Mail, all ambiguity is at an end, and freedom of election in lreland under the present regime may be considered as a mere farce:-


“Mr. Orpen, of North Great George-street, left Dublin on last Monday evening, by the Limerick mail coach, for Tralee, intending to give his vote there on Tuesday evening, or Wednesday morning, for Mr. Blennerhassett, and to return to Dublin,where important basiness required his presence,on Thursday. At Limerick he was joined by several gentlemen, also proceeding to Tralee, Messrs. Studdart, Hickson, Jones, the Rev. Mr. Nash and his nephew, and the Rev. Mr. Drew. On the arrival of the coach at Abbeyfeale, on the border of the county of Kerry, at about 3 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, it was surrounded by about 500 persons, some of whom immediately proceeded to drag those gentlemen from the coach. Mr. Nash and his nephew succeeded in getting into the house of the stipendiary magistrate, Mr. Cooke. Messrs. Studdart and Hickson were imprisoned in the inn, and Messrs. Orpen and Jones were dragged into a house where the Temperance Society holds its meetings, and there confined in a small room, on an earthen floor, guarded by a number of ruffians. Here they were interrogated as to their names, residences, &c., and their answers compared with a written paper held by one of the party. A certain number of the crowd outside were then called in, apparently persons belonging to some committee or body, who went up stairs to the temperance room, as if to consult what should be done with the prisoners below, who certainly did not feel very comfortable whilst the jury sat on their fate. After some time the parish priest, Mr. Lyddy, who had previously endeavoured to prevent Mr. Orpen’s detention, came to the house, and persuaded the people there to allow Mr. Orpen and his fellow-prisoner to go to the inn in custody,but the people outside refused to allow it; and these gentlemen had before them the agreeable prospect of remaining all night in this miserable room, exposed to the caprice of an infuriated mob, who appeared particularly enraged with them for having resisted as long as they were able. Mr. Lyddy, however, at last succeeded, and they were marched to the inn under his protection. It is but justice to Mr. Lyddy to say, that but for him these gentlemen’s lives would probably have been sacrificed, as they were abased and repeatedly struck, even while leaning on his arm. On their arrival at the inn they found three of their fellow travellers – Mr.Drew having been suffered to proceed, on proving that he was about to vote for Mr. Browne. There they were kept under constant watch by the parties outside; and on a supicion that they had sent for aid to rescue them, it was debated among the people whether they would not take them out of the house, and carry them off; and they were compelled to show themselves to the mob to satisfy them that they were still there. The landlord’s son, however, remained outside the door all night, and succeeded in preventing further violence. In the evening a deputation was sent to summon the attendance of the teetotalers’ bands from eight neighbouring parishes, and accordingly at night about persons marched into the town, with their drums beating, bagpipes, &c., playing. Having lighted an immense bonfire, they remained all night, shouting and vociferating in front of the inn. One party had a great drum, before which was carried a pole surmounted with a green cross, and adorned with green ribands.

“Next morning, about 9 o’clock, the stipendiary magistrate, for the first time, visited the prisoners, and expressed his regret that he had not been able to afford them any accommodation in his house. They informed him that they had thought that if he had made his appearance the day before, he might have been of some use to them. He alleged he was powerless, having but two policemen in the town, and that he had endeavoured to pacify the mob. However this may be, the gentlemen in question neither saw nor heard of his exer- tions, except from the stipendiary himself, nor knew of his being in the town. If the fact be that this magistrate had but two policemen with him, it would seem very odd that he had not provided protection for persons traveling to the election, as Mr. Sandes had been stopped by the mob on the Sunday preceding, and still remained in the house in which he had taken refuge. There was, therefore, ample time to provide a sufficient force to protect the voters proceeding to Tralee. By this forcible detention, Mr. Blennerhassett has lost the votes of those gentlemen, besides those of about as many more who were proceeding by the coach on the following day, but who stopped at Newcastle on ascertaining that they would be made prisoners at Abbeyfeale if they proceeded. These facts have been reported to Colonel M’Gregor, and depositions have been transmitted to Tralee to ground an application on to the Sheriff to adjourn the poll till a military escort can be obtained to protect the out-voters in attempting to reach Tralee.”

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