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The courtcase was crowded to overflowing, so it seems that interest in this trial had hooked the interest of most of Ballybay. The OLIVER family and the LESLIE family were going head to head over ownership of the Laragh Mills. The LESLIE family seemed to have most of the legal documents to convincingly buttress their case. The OLIVER cause had been taken up by many of the locals and physical intimidation had been exercised against the LESLIEs.
Sharon Oddie Brown, December 9, 2004.
Some footnote corrections: July 5, 2007.
NOTE: The unpublished paper: The rise & fall of a village industry Cornacarrow & Laragh mills 1775 – 1925 by Mary Frances Kerley is a splendid resource for understanding some of the complications of this crisis. I am grateful.

1845, May 6. Armagh Guardian [Louth Advertiser]

BALLIBAY [Co Monaghan] PETTY SESSIONS: APRIL 24, 1845.
The Court-house was crowded to excess, this day having been specially fixed for the hearing of the summonses issued at the instance of David Leslie, Esq [1] ., of Leslie Hill, against the parties charged with participation in the recent turbulent proceedings at Larah [2] , in the Parish of Aughnamullan East. The previous business having been disposed of, the following persons were called:--James Fealy [3] , P. M’Cabe [4] , Andrew Lynch [5] , and Joseph Oliver, Esq [6] ., all of Larah; Wm. Jackson, Esq [7] ., of Drummullard (Rhea Mills); James Fealy [8] , of Beagh; Michael Fealy [9] , Dennis Lynch [10] , Michael Owens [11] , Owen, Patrick [12] , Patrick Mohan [13] , Owen, and Joseph Byrne [14] . All answered to their names, except Mohan, who, it was stated, had emigrated to America.

Mr. Swanzy [15] , Solicitor for Mr. Leslie, said he would proceed against James Fealy, sen [16] ., for a malicious trespass, and using threatening expressions to Mr. Leslie. He said it was with deep regret he brought this case into Court. Everything in the power of his client had been done to arrange the matter equitably and amicably, without avail. On the contrary, a bad feeling and prejudice had been most unwarrantably excited against him, because he sought to substantiate his just rights.

There had been numerous pecuniary transactions between Mr. Leslie and the Olivers, father and son, the former of whom, now deceased, was his uncle [17] , and several deeds had been duly executed, by one of which the entire interest in the lands of Larah had been transferred to Mr. Leslie for valuable consideration; this deed of conveyance had been drawn up by Mr. Meares [18] — an eminent Solicitor of Dublin. Mr. Leslie had advanced upwards of £5,000 on the property, which was far beyond its value. He would hand in the deeds, and prove long continued possession in Mr. Leslie; with the full knowledge and assent of Mr. Oliver, as shown by his acts and letters ; and he lamented that the misguided men at the bar should have attempted to disturb him in the peaceable enjoyment of his property.

Mr. Swanzy handed in the documents—one of which was a deed of sale, and amongst them a letter from Mr. Oliver, jun. [19] , to Mr. Leslie, dated in 1843, disclaiming, in the most distinct terms, any right to the lands in question, and added that he would be a rogue to advance any such pretensions.

Mr. Leslie begged permission to add a few words to the statement of his professional adviser. He felt that he was not merely in a court of Justice, but before the moral tribunal of public opinion, and was anxious to justify his conduct to the world. For ten years he had been expending money on this property, which was indebted to him at least £6,000, of which he had not received a penny, principal or interest ; nor had he taken proceedings till Mr. Oliver violently took down his name from the mills, defied him to restore it, and expressly told the occupier (Mr. Leslie) that he would not permit it to be done. He offered now what he had offered repeatedly before that; he was ready to sell the property, and if it realised more than the ascertained actual amount of his advances, he would hand over the balance to Mr. Oliver.

Mr. Cunningham, J. P [20] ., said this statement was a very proper one to be made, and desired Mr. Swanzy to proceed.

Mr. Swanzy handed in a letter from the Rev. Mr. Maguire, P.P [21] ., Aughnamullen East, who was expected to attend to prove possession, regretting his unavoidable absence.

David Leslie, Esq., examined—Recollects Tuesday, the 11th March last; was at his house at Larah; his ploughman, Owen Lamb [22] , came and told him that if he did not take the mare from the plough, himself or the mare would be stuck; that men were collecting on the hill; Lamb appeared to be frightened; went at once to Ballytreen station, about three-quarters of a mile off, for the Police; was met on the road by Fealy, who was accompanied by three or four men, two of whom, at least, had spades, and bid him stop; Fealy asked him where he was going; he replied to Meehan’s [23] house, which was untrue, as he was, in fact, going for the Police; Fealy said he wanted to speak to him on particular, private, business, and he must turn back to Larah, as he could only tell it there; witness refused, and Fealy said he had rather than a great deal he had him where he was ten minutes ago; that men were on the hill—three on a ridge, and he would be soon settled with; believed Fealy in earnest; the other men were behind him, but not close; John Leslie, son of witness, then came up with a double-barrelled gun, on which Fealy retired, and said he wanted no fighting, to which witness answered neither did he.

Fealy.—Troth you’re just right.

Mr. Leslie—Fealy seemed excited—would not say ferocious, as that was an equivocal term, but violent; proceeded on his way without further molestation.

To the Bench.—Was at Larah that day overseeing his men; is frequently there; has been in actual possession of the lands for two years; sold the crops, paid the men, and hired servants in the lifetime of the late Mr. Oliver.

Cross-examined.—Was not followed, but intercepted, on the road ; had seen Fealy before, on that morning, about 6 o’clock.

Master John Leslie [24] (son of last witness—a manly, intelligent boy, of about 14), examined.—Recollects the day ; was told at Larah by Owen Lamb to follow his father, for that Fealy—the man at the bar—had pursued him to raise the country ; did follow him with the gun, and came up in time to hear the threatening expressions already deposed to; Lamb pointed out Fealy crossing the meadows with another man; is sure, from his gait and dress, he was the same he came up with on the road; was about a hundred yards off at the time, or more; had not known Fealy before; from the place he saw him first to the place where he came up with his father is half-a-mile; the hill slopes and he could see; there were two or three men near Fealy with spades, and a boy with a black coat; the hour of the day was 12 o’clock.

On cross-examination he corroborated his father’s evidence in every particular.

Fealy.—By G—d this is very curious.

Pat Owens was called, but appeared, as, indeed, did most of the witnesses, very reluctant to be sworn, or to give evidence, as he said the parties were friends. Being cautioned by the Bench, he stated that he saw Fealy go after Mr. Leslie in the same direction; took no particular notice; can’t say how long after or how far he went ; saw him subsequent to that day with a number of men take the horses out of the plough and drive them out on the road ; Fealy said he could show an order, but did not show any to witness; the party were not opposed; they said no one should oppose them; several carried sticks, and some had their coats off; they said there would be bad work if resistance was offered, and that no one there was fit to hinder them; Fealy had no spade when he saw him follow Mr. Leslie.

Owen Lamb, examined—Didn’t see the trespass; told John Leslie to follow his father on the 11th March, but no more passed; didn’t see Fealy cross the meadows; saw him go down the road, he supposes to his daughter.

By the Bench—Was warned that day to keep his mare at home; dreaded danger to Mr. Leslie ; worked for him before; Mr. Leslie tilled the land last Spring, and did as he liked with it; saw the threatening notice (now produced) before; took it off the door of the forge where he works, two or three days before, and sent it to Mr. Leslie; left his work on account of the notice; never said he got no notice, but that he wanted to make Mr. Leslie believe so.

The notice was read, cautioning Lamb not to send his mare to plough for Mr. Leslie —that he was warned before — and by G—d this was the last warning. Richard Henderson [25] , the driver of the plough, proved the trespass against Fealy, who had about twelve men with him; they drove off the horses to pound: was in Mr. Leslie’s employment and working on the land for two years; was paid by him; was his herd.

Mr. Swanzy produced Mr. Oliver’s letter disclaiming any right to the lands.

Mr. Oliver admitted the letter but said it was written for a certain purpose to procure money, and contained statements that were false. Mr. Swanzy—we close here.

DEFENCE.
Charles Fealy [26] was objected to as being particeps criminis, but was eventually sworn, and said there was no one on the road but himself and James when the latter met Mr. Leslie; saw the “big man” (Mr. Leslie) and the young fellow with the gun; on his oath there were only two children of his in the next field, the eldest six years old; there was nobody in the next to that; will not swear that there was no one in the next, farther on; James Fealy came out of the field, and met Mr. Leslie on the road.

Mr. Swanzy—Thank you for that evidence.

Wm. Jackson, Esq. [27] , examined—Fealy was at his house that morning between seven and eight o’clock, and left to return home; the place where the conversation occurred is not on the nearest road—it is not on the common road—but is not a mile round. Mr. Jackson proceeded to state that the day before he got from Mr. Oliver in Monaghan gaol an order to hand to Fealy, the original of which in the handwriting of Mr. Munn [28] , a Dublin Solicitor, he now produced. The document which was read directed Fealy to put off Mr. Leslie’s people by force, and to turn Mrs. Leslie (mother of Mr. Leslie and aunt [29] of Oliver) out of the house.

The Bench asked if Fealy could produce that copy, but he replied he forgot it at home. Sergeant Clerken [30] saw it.

Sergeant Clerken being sworn, stated that Fealy showed him some written paper, but he did not read it, and could not speak to the contents.

Mr. Wallace, R.M [31] .—Recollected that at Larah he asked Fealy to show the order, but he did not then produce it. Fealy asked time, but the Bench ruled that the order, even if produced, would be worth no more than so much waste paper, and Fealy had full notice.

Mr. Leslie—I never received any letter from an Attorney, and those violent proceedings were the first intimation I had that my right was disputed.

Mr. Oliver asked time to produce a lease made by Mr. Leslie in 1845, of which 11 years were unexpired. He said he did not expect the case to come on; but the Bench refused a postponement.

George Leslie, Esq. [32] , examined—Occupies the mill at Larah; proved that he audited a general account jointly with Mr. Jas. Marron [33] between Mr. Leslie and Mr. Oliver, in which the former was credited with upwards of £5,000; Leslie debited Oliver with outlay and wages, crediting him with the proceeds of the farm ; did not believe Oliver a tenant or in possession; was told by the late Mr. Oliver to pay his rent to Mr. Leslie; Mr. Leslie paid the head rent; the younger Oliver was a witness to the letting by Leslie to witness; had received threatening notices, in consequence of which he had served notice to give up the mills; got a letter from Mr. Oliver from Monaghan gaol, assuring him of safety, but desiring him to pay no rent to Mr. Leslie.

Mr. Wallace, R.M.—Then did you infer from that that Oliver had the peace of the country in his hands.

Mr. Ledlie—Both parties have been courteous to me; is not afraid of Oliver, but is of a person named Duffy [34] ; but that affair is not connected with this ransaction.

The case here closed, and after a conference together, the Bench ruled unanimously that they would take informations against Fealy for the malicious trespass, riot, and threatening language. They also wished Mr. Swanzy to select the most culpable amongst the other parties.

Mr. Swanzy assented, and informations were consequently taken against Peter M’Cabe and M. Fealy for riot and malicious trespass, Mr. Swanzy stating that he would be content if the remainder except Mr. Oliver and Mr. Jackson, were put under a rule of bail to keep the peace.

Several parties here protested their complete innocence, and Mr. Leslie said he would proceed no further against them, but consent to their immediate discharge, as he was satisfied they had been misguided.

Mr. Swanzy then proceeded with the charge against Mr. Oliver, which was for forcibly taking down Mr. Leslie’s name from the mills, and using threats and intimidation to prevent any person from putting it up again, and also for forcible entry. Mr. Oliver admitted the fact, and entered into a statement of his title. He denied that Mr. Leslie was in possession. It appeared by Mr. Ledlie’s evidence, that he insisted on Mr. Leslie’s name being put up as a condition of tenancy, and it was done with the consent of the late Mr. Oliver; always understood the mills to be Mr. Leslie’s property; was aware of an assignment of the whole property to him; Mr. Leslie was liable to a fine of £20 for not having a name up.

Bench—Put up your own name.

Mr. Ledlie—I had rather not, thank you. (Laughter.)

A witness was examined, who swore that Mr. Oliver desired him not to plough, or else to mark the consequence.

Mr. Oliver put in an agreement, by which he and Mr. Leslie agreed, that for two months neither would exercise ownership, till affairs could be arranged; but Mr. Leslie called attention to a clause by which it was provided that “if either party made default, the agreement should not be binding on the other.”

Mr. Ledlie, on being asked, did not recollect having heard Mr. Oliver say, on the very night the account was settled, that nothing but the mill and twenty acres, at £40 a-year, would satisfy him, upon which Mr. Leslie called James Marron, Esq.,--the other auditor — who deposed to this fact, and also that Mr. Oliver said afterwards he should get £700 or £800, or he would give Mr. Leslie trouble.

Mr. Ledlie subsequently recollected the conversation.

Pat Owens proved that he was caretaker in charge of Doctor Leslie’s house, at Larah; Oliver came, at twelve o’clock at night, and demanded admittance, or he would break in the door; a boy let him in; he broke an inner door with a poker and took whatever he liked; he said he wanted the mare.

Mr. Oliver.—My own mare.

Mr. Leslie.—I beg your pardon, my mare.

To the BENCH.—Oliver has occasionally slept in the house, but not three nights successively since his return from Monaghan; supposes he slept with his wife [35] at the house of James Fealy, the traverser, his father-in-law.

Mr. Oliver — I defy any man to prove I ever slept a night there with her. (Laughter.)

Mr. Leslie—I repeat I am most anxious to get out of this matter quietly. I have offered to take £1,000 less than the property stands me. I repeat that offer now.

Informations were taken against Mr. Oliver.

The next case was against. Wm. Jackson, Esq., for exciting the people to leave their employment, and using threatening and intimidating language. Francis Smith [36] and Michael M’Kee [37] , both of whom appeared reluctant witnesses, proved that in the Chapelyard of Aughnamullen East, after the Clergyman had gone, Mr. Jackson addressed the people, telling them not to pay rent to Mr. Leslie, or to work on the land without Oliver’s orders, or they’d get into trouble: there were some of the workmen and tenants present; M’Kee said the words that they were not “allowed” to work without Oliver’s leave.

Mr. Jackson explained that the people came to him for advice; he only wanted to keep the peace, and he simply read the document handed to him by Oliver, in Monaghan Gaol.

Mr. Ledlie could speak to his conduct.

Mr. Ledlie said Mr. Jackson kindly came over the morning the mill-race was cut, and told the people to do no more harm; knows nothing about the proceedings in the Chapel-yard, as he was not there.

Bench—Are you prepared, Mr. Leslie, to swear that persons were prevented from working in consequence of Mr. Jackson’s advice?

Mr. Leslie—I am. I have much further evidence to implicate Mr. Jackson, but I will reserve it for another opportunity.

Informations were then taken against Mr. Jackson.

J. M’Donald [38] proved that the tenants attorned to Mr. Leslie two years ago, and Oliver was a witness to take attornments. He had taken up money without the knowledge of his father, which Mr. Leslie had allowed.

Mr. Cunningham, J.P., warned the country people not to interfere further, and to let the principals fight their own battles, otherwise many of them would be sent to Monaghan Gaol for their criminal folly .— Louth Advertiser


[1] David LESLIE of Leslie Hill (in the Derrynoose area of Armagh). See letter to Editor, 1845, March 17. He was the son of Martha OLIVER who married Nathanial LESLIE (son of William LESLIE) SOURCE: Deed Memorial 558.208.370880. Martha was a sister of William OLIVER sr. deceased and both of them children of David OLIVER of Ballyrea who had his initial Laragh leases in 1765.
[2] Larah – also spelled “Laragh”. See p 262-4, At the Ford of the Birches by James H. Murnane and Peadar Murnane for more details on the ownership and start of the mills.
[3] James FEALY of Laragh? Note: An unnamed FEALY married Joseph OLIVER (SOn of WIlliam OLIVER and Mary Anne HYDE)
[4] P. McCABE of Laragh?
[5] Andrew LYNCH of Laragh?
[6] Joseph OLIVER of Laragh (b after 1809), son of William OLIVER (d. abt 1844)
[7] William JACKSON of Drumullard
[8] James FEALY of Beagh – is this a different James Fealy? Later on there is a reference to James Fealy sr.. I would assume the one who is linked to a property is more likely to be the senior one. Just a guess. One of them is referred to later as the father-in-law of Joseph OLIVER.
[9] Michael FEALY?
[10] Dennis LYNCH?
[11] Michael OWENS?
[12] Patrick OWEN ? or Patrick OWENS? Caretaker at Leslie House at Laragh.
[13] Patrick MOHAN?
[14] Owen & Joseph BYRNE?
[15] Mr. SWANZY?
[16] Likely this is James FEALY of Beagh
[17] This would refer to Wm OLIVER sr (d. abt 1844)
[18] Mr. MEARES?
[19] Joseph OLIVER.
[20] Mr. CUNNINGHAM?
[21] Mr. MAGUIRE?
[22] Owen LAMB?
[23] MEEHAN?
[24] John LESLIE, son of David LESLIE
[25] Richard HENDERSON?
[26] Charles FEALY?
[27] William JACKSON?
[28] Mr. MUNN
[29] Martha LESLIE nee OLIVER (d. aft 1845) was a daughter of David OLIVER and grandmother of the aforementioned John LESLIE. She was the wife of Nathaniel LESLIE.
[30] Sergeant CLERKEN
[31] Mr. WALLACE?
[32] George LESLIE. I am guessing that he is related to the David Leslie.
[33] Mr. Jas Marron? James Marron
[34] DUFFY? Would this be Felix DUFFY? See p. 474 At the Ford of the Birches by James H. Murnane and Peadar Murnane for a story of violent actions by Duffy in 1832 involving tithe collections.
[35] The wife of the Joseph OLIVER who I presume to be the subject of this case seems to be a daughter of James FEALY.
[36] Francis SMITH?
[37] Michael McKEE
[38] J. M’DONALD?

 

 

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