LATELY PUBLISHED, and now selling by G. DOUGLAS, MR. GRATTAN'S ADDRESS to the Citizens of Dublin, On his retiring from Parliament.

ALSO, MR. ERSKINE'S SPEECH in the Trial of J. Williams for publishing "PAINE'S AGE OF REASON."



☞ IT is necessary to premise, that the following Ac­count is taken from a Paper under the command of the British Government—(there is now no free Press in IRE­LAND)—and all the minute and leading circumstances of Mr. ORR'S melancholy case have been prevented from ap­pearing in print—The cruel and unmerited fate of this persecuted man, however, has excited the grief and indig­nation of a vast majority of the people of both Ireland and England—as such, it cannot pass unnoticed, and unfelt, by every Irishman, and by every friend of Liberty in AMERICA, of whatever country.



THE first witness called was Hugh Wheatley, soldier in the Fifeshire Fencibles.—He said, that in April 1796, he returned from Scotland, where he had been on furlough. On going by Antrim, to join his regiment at Derry, along with othertwo soldiers, one of them named Lindsay, they went into a public-house, where they met with a person named Campbell, and another named Orr, not the prisoner. After leaving that house, they went along a road, where Campbell introduced the witness to Orr, the prisoner, who was in a field sowing flax. He came out of the field, and they all went to a house, where a number of people soon assembled, and they put a vote among themselves, whether they should put the Constitution book into the prisoner's hands. They agreed to do so, and the prisoner, acting as president, held out a book to the witness to swear on. The witness at first re­fused to swear, but afterwards did so, being told his life was not worth a farthing, if he did not come into their way of thinking. The oath was, to keep the secrets of United Irishmen, and not, for any reward, to discover on them. They said, they wanted a Reform in Parliament, and, if they did not get it by fair means, they would overthrow the Constitution; and that they meant to have as many military or armed men on their side as to effect it. They gave him, the witness, a Constitution book to take his di­rections from, with orders, that as soon as he joined his regiment, he was to swear in as many as he could; and [Page 6] when seven were made, they were to form a Committee, and then the book would direct them what to do. That while the witness and his companions were in Antrim and the neighbourhood, they were supported in the house of John Hyndman, and paid nothing for it; and when they left Antrim, they got five shillings from the prisoner, and sixpence from another man. After the witness had been sworn a United Irishman, the persons who were in the room gave him certain signs by which to know United Irishmen, and explained them to him.—The first sign was, "Lift the right hand, and draw it down over the right side of the face—2d, Lift the left hand, and draw it down over the left side of the face—3d, Shake hands by the left hands—4th, Say, What do you know? I know U.—What do you know more? I know T." or some other letters of the word UNITY or UNITED.—Campbell invited him, the witness, and Lindsay, to his house, a little way from An­trim, where they were shewn arms, and a paper called the Northern Star; and in his garden they were shewn a draw well, which, they were told, would be a nice place to put the Aristocrats.

Cross-examined by Mr. Curran.


Did you ever say to a young man, If you are a friend to Mr. Orr, go to the prison, and ask him to give me a little money, and I'll desert?


No; I was offered money by a person in Belfast to desert, but I would not do so—I did not know him.


Did you ever send any cartridges to be given to Mr. Orr in prison, as a token that it came from a soldier?


I believe not.


Did you ever say to any person, that you took the test in a manner that suited your own mind, and that you was dissatisfied as a soldier?


I never did, unless it might be to some of the United Irishmen, before I knew what they meant.


Did you ever say any thing about tools of Go­vernment?


What kind of tools are they? I don't know what you mean.

[Page 7]

Did you ever say you was enlisted when drunk, and intended to desert?


I never said I intended to desert? I probably might have said I was drunk when I enlisted.


Had you ever any conversation with one Walker, a soldier, about being Up?


I never advised him to be up, but I endeavoured to learn what he knew about it.


Did you ever say he might take the oath of secrecy, without going farther?


I told him I would shew him all that was in my poc­ket-book, which was only a parcel of old letters.


Did you ever tell him about powder coming over to Ireland in flax-seed hogsheads, and about a smith making pikes?


I never told him any thing about powder, but I might have mentioned something about pikes, by way of a whim.

John Lindsay, soldier in the Fifeshire Fencibles, said that when he and Wheatley came from Scotland, and were re­turning to Derry by Antrim, they saw the prisoner, who gave Wheatley a book, and swore him not to discover the secrets of the United Irishmen for any see or reward, or to give evidence against any of them. There was a society there, which they called the Baronial Meeting, and Camp­bell and the prisoner were there. Wheatley got a Consti­tution book—he, the witness, did not get one, and does not know the object of the United Irishmen, but took the oath of secrecy administered by the prisoner in Hynd­man's house.

Mr. Curran, in behalf of the prisoner, addressed the Court as to the construction of the act of Parliament upon which the prisoner was tried. He took notice of the va­rious acts of the Legislature which had been passed from time to time, for suppressing and preventing tumultuous risings, prohibiting the-administering of unlawful oaths, &c. &c. He remarked, that the act 36th of the king, upon which the prisoner was now tried, made the penalty death. He contended, that if the two witnesses who had been examined were to be believed, their evidence [Page 8] amounted to a proof of High Treason, and surely the crime of High Treason could not be tried by any other law than that which applied to it. The objection, therefore, which he had to the present trial, was this; that the body of crime contained in the evidence, was not a crime of the nature laid in the indictment, but a crime of High Trea­son. It follows, then, that if a person be charged with a crime amounting to High Treason, he ought to be tried by the law which relates to High Treason, and then he will be entitled to all the advantages which that law gives him.

The abilities of Mr. Curran are sufficiently known, and stand in no need of encomium. Upon this occasion they were exerted with all their force and energy; and he went over an extensive field of argument, to shew that the in­dictment, in its present shape, ought to be quashed.

The Attorney General said a few words in reply to Mr. Cur­ran—He remarked that notice had been taken of the pro­cedure of the Crown in some trials, as tending to shew that such procedure had been rigorous and severe. But he said he could challenge any one to point out a case where the prisoner had not received every indulgence con­sistent with the due administration of justice; and he thought that any remarks thrown out, tending to impress the minds of the people with a contrary opinion, were equally unjust and improper. The Attorney General was proceeding to answer some of Mr. Curran's arguments, when

Judge Yelverton said, that he had listened with patience to hear every argument that could be suggested for the prisoner; and he had discovered that it all went to call upon him to quash the present trial. He thought, however, he could not be justifiable in complying with this—He thought too, the objection was ill timed, it ought to have been made at a much earlier stage of the business, and and not reserved till now, when the whole evidence on the part of the Crown had been divulged.

Mr. Curran proceeded to call

Evidence on the part of the Prisoner.

Charles M'Claverty said he knew the prisoner and also [Page 9] Wheatley, the soldier. About January last he, the witness, had a conversation with Wheatley, whom he overtook with Serjeant Miller on the road from Ballyclare to Car­rick—They all went into a house on the road side and had a glass of spirits. There was a man lying in a bed in the room were they were; he spoke to Miller, having been formerly in the service with him. After one half pint was drunk another was called for, and before it was drank Wheatley called the witness out and they went on the road together—Wheatley asked him if he knew Mr. Orr, who was in prison, and if he would go into the jail to serve him—He, the witness, said he could not get into the jail and did not then know Orr—Wheatley said "you must try to do it, and tell Orr if he will put a different coloured coat upon me and some money I will desert; and if he will get another coat and two guineas, I will get Lindsay to desert also, for Lindsay was as ready to go as himself." Wheatley then added, they had slogged him in Ballymoney for his prin­ciples, and when taking off his coat had destroyed papers about the United Irishman, which he was sorry for, and that he had persevered in several towns. Soon after this Wheatley again said you must go into jail to be of service to Orr, but the witness replied as he did not know Orr, he would not believe him; then said Wheatley, "here is a sa­cred note," holding up his right hand with a cartridge in it. He added that it was not he but Lindsay that had sworn against Orr, and that Lindsay would swear the Hill of Howth in Scotland was no larger than a pound of can­dles in a chandler's shop.—At this time Serjeant Miller came up with them and they dropt the conversation. When the witness arrived in Carrickfergus, he applied to a Magistrate who gave him a line to get into the prison, where he saw Orr, who did not know him, but one Story who was there knew him and introduced him to Orr, to whom he delivered the message from the soldier. When Orr heard it he stared, would not believe it and said he was a villain—The witness returned soon after to Wheatley, who was waiting for an answer—They went together into a Mr. Anderson's, where they got some porter, and Wheat­ley urged him to go into the jail again but he would not do it.

[Page 10]

Cross-examined by the Attorney-General.

Witness said, when he met with Wheatley, he was go­ing to Carrick, to enquire after a guinea which had been sent there to a Free-mason, because he was not certain if it had been delivered. He had never spoken to Orr be­fore seeing him that day in prison.

John Young said, he once heard Wheatley say he was enlisted in Scotland when in liquor, and that he took the test-oath in his own mind to answer himself.

Cross examined.—


Was Orr considered as a leader among the boys?


I don't know what boys.


Did his being taken up make a great noise in the country?


It did.

Serjeant Miller, called by the prosecutor. Witness said, that he recollects that on the road to Carrick along with Wheatley, a young man overtook them, and they all went into a house, where they had a glass.—They remained some time, and then all of them came out together, and walked on till they came within a quarter of a mile of Car­rick, when he, the witness, stepped aside a short time, and then went on. No conversation took place on the road, but what he heard.



Don't you think it possible they might have said a few words which you did not hear?


They might.

Rev. Mr. Foote Marshall said, M'Claverty lived in his ser­vice for a year, and, from what he knows of him, is con­vinced he would not tell a lie.

Here the examination of the evidence was closed.

Judge Yelverton then charged the Jury, and recapitu­lated the evidence that had been adduced on both sides. His Lordship took notice of the witness Wheatley, who, he said, had given his evidence in a very clear and distinct manner, and in a stile of language which convinced him he had received an education far superior to what generally falls to the lot of men in his station of life. With regard to Lindsay's evidence, his Lordship said, that so far as it went, it supported that which had been given by Wheatley; [Page 11] and, upon the whole, those two witnesses were, in their evidence, consistent with themselves and with each other. It was true, some witnesses had been adduced to disprove what Wheatley had said, but these witnesses differed ma­terially with each other. M'Claverty says, that the con­versation between him and Wheatley, relative to his going into prison to request Orr to give money, &c. to him to desert, took place immediately after they came out of the house where they had been drinking on the road to Car­rick, and that Serjeant Miller was then left behind; while Serjeant Miller says, that they all came out of the house together, and no conversation of the nature men­tioned could have taken place without his hearing it: he admits, however, that when about a quarter of a mile from Carrick, he stepped aside, and Wheatley and M'Claverty walked on together, so that, if any conversation took place, it must have been then, and not at the time mentioned by M'Claverty.

His Lordship, after making a few more remarks, left the whole case with [...] Jury, requesting that if they had any doubts, they would lean to the side of mercy.

The Jury were then inclosed, and remained so from seven o'clock in the evening till six o'clock in the morning, when they returned a verdict of GUILTY, but re­commended the prisoner to mercy. Judge Yelverton said, he would transmit their recommendation, which his Lordship accordingly did that same morning by ex­press.


Mr. Curran, in a speech replete with great elegance of language, force of reasoning, and brilliancy of thought, argued for several hours in support of a motion he made to the Court, for an arrest of judgment in the case of Mr. Orr. Various law authorities were resorted to, and many inge­nious inferences drawn, both from the construction of law and of language.

The Court took the whole into consideration, and were of opinion, that the motion ought to be set aside.

[Page 12]


William Orr, for administering unlawful oaths to two soldiers, and found guilty on Monday, was sentenced to be hanged on the 7th of October next.—It is much to the honour of Baron Yelverton, that we have to observe, that in pronouncing the awful sentence on this unhappy man, he was so deeply affected as scarcely to be able, articulately, to conclude a very impressive address. The tears gushed from his eyes, and covering his face with both his hands, his Lordship, greatly agitated, remained in that situation for several minutes. In this address, the Baron told Mr. Orr, that though recommended to mercy by the Jury, he thought it would be the greatest cruelty to flatter him with any hopes of a remission of the sentence, which it had been his painful office to pronounce, and strongly re­commended to him to make the best use of his time in making his peace with God, and in preparing for that atonement, which he was destined to make to the offended laws of his country.

[Mr. Orr is a very respectable farmer, and a man of property in the neighbourhood of Antrim, where he has resided all his life-time with a fair and unblemished cha­racter. He appears to be about thirty or two and thirty years of age—remarkably good looking, and much the appearance of a gentleman. He has six children by a very amiable prudent wife, who has been his constant compa­nion in prison, and who is at this moment far advanced in pregnancy. Her distress may be felt, but it cannot be ex­pressed.]

Mr. ORR (immediately after sentence) begged leave to say a few words:—"My Lord," said he, "that Jury has convicted me of being a Felon; my own heart tells me that their conviction is a falsehood, and that I am not a Felon: if they have found me so improperly, it is worse for them than for me, for I can forgive them—I wish to say only one word more, and that is, to declare upon this awful occasion, and in the presence of God, that the evidence against me was grossly perjured, grossly and wickedly perjured."

[Page 13]


When Mr. Curran contended for an arrest of judgment, he argued with all that brilliancy of imagination and force of reasoning, for which this gentleman is so justly cele­brated—He said, That the jury should be discharged of the indictment, and that they should be directed to acquit the prisoner; if the testimony of the informer was true, the guilt which it proved was not a crime of Felony under the Insurrection Act, but a crime of High Treason under the Statute of Edward III. A man charged with High Treason in Great Britain, has advantages of defence which make it almost impossible for an innocent man to fall a victim to the mere malice of persecution: he must have a copy of the indictment; the overt-acts must be expressly charged; the blasted breath of one venal Informer cannot des­troy him. In that country there must be two witnesses at the least. Even in Ireland, where life does not seem to be of so much value, the man accused of Treason has advantages peculiar to his situation; he is entitled to an exact copy of his charge, and a full defence by his Counsel in point of law and in fact. The State must avow itself as the prose­cutor; it cannot wage a piratical war against his life, un­der false colours; and if it prosecutes him maliciously, he is authorised by his Counsel to display every circumstance of his case to his Jury, and of appealing to every sense of their duty, their justice, their humanity, and their danger, for his protection. To try him, therefore, under this Act, which gave him none of those advantages, was to try him without hearing him, and was an oppression unwarranted by the Law of the Land. This objection, it was said, might appear at first sight to be novel and hazardous. As to its novelty, it was the first time that such a proceeding, was ever attempted, and the objection to it must be there­fore new. It might certainly be thought desperate to seek a refuge from a charge of Felony under the Law Trea­son; and it was only to be lamented that the melancholy state of the Country so fully justified such a conduct.

[Page 15]

The DYING DECLARATION of WILLIAM ORR, of Fer­ranshane, in the county of Antrim, Farmer TO THE PUBLIC.

My Friends and Countrymen,

IN the thirty-first year of my life, I have been sentenced to die upon the gallows, and this sentence has been in pur­suance of a verdict of twelve men, who should have been indifferently and impartially chosen; how far they have been so, I leave to that country from which they have been chosen, to determine; and how far they have discharged their duty, I leave to their God and to themselves.—They have, in pronouncing their verdict, thought proper to re­commend me as an object of humane mercy; in return, I pray to God, if they have erred, to have mercy upon them. The Judge, who condemned me, humanely shed tears in uttering my sentence, but whether he did wisely in so highly commending the wretched Informer, who swore away my life, I leave to his own cool reflection, solemnly assuring him and all the world, with my dying breath, that that informer was forsworn. The law under which I suffer, is surely a severe one; may the makers and pro­moters of it be justified in the integrity of their motives and the purity of their own lives—by that law, I am stamped a selon, but my heart disdains the imputation. My com­fortable lot and industrious course of life, best refute the charge of being an adventurer for plunder; but if to have loved my Country, to have known its wrongs, to have felt the injuries of the persecuted Catholics, and to have united with them and all other religious persuasions in the most orderly and least sanguinary means of procuring redress:—If these be selonies, I am a selon, but not otherwise. Had my Council (for whose honourable exertions I am indebted) prevailed in their motion to have me tried for high treason, rather than under the Insurrection [...], I should have been intitled then to a full defence, and my actions and intentions would have been better vindicated, [Page 16] but that was refused, and I must now submit to what has passed.

To the generous protection of my Country, I leave a be­loved wife, who has been constant and true to me, and whose grief for my fate has already nearly occasioned her death.* I leave five living children, who have been my de­light—may they love their Country as I have done, and die for it, if needful.

Lastly, a false and ungenerous publication having appeared in a news-paper, stating, certain alleged con­fessions of guilt on my part, and thus striking at my repu­tation, which is dearer to me than life, I take this solemn method of contradicting that calumny:—I was applied to by the high sheriff and the Rev. William Bristow, Sove­reign of Belfast, to make a confession of guilt, who used entreaties to that effect; this I peremptorily refused; did I think myself guilty, I should be free to confess it; but on the contrary, I glory in my innocence.

I trust that all my virtuous Countrymen will bear me in their kind remembrance, and continue true and faithful to each other, as I have been to all of them; with this last wish of my heart, nothing doubting of the success of that cause in which I suffer, and hoping for God's merciful forgiveness of such offences as my frail nature may have at any time betrayed me into, I die in peace and charity with all mankind.


N. B. The above Declaration was made and read by Wil­liam Orr, in the presence of the Rev. Mr. Savage.


IT is with extreme reluctance that we address the public on so distressing a subject—but having seen a printed pa­per, signed William Orr, which was delivered by him yes­terday, [Page 17] as his dying declaration, at the place of execution, in which was this assertion, viz. "I was applied to by the high sheriff, and the Rev. Wm. Bristow, Sovereign of Bel­fast, to make a confession of guilt, who used entreaties to that effect: this I peremptorily refused."

We think it a duty we owe to ourselves and to the pub­lic, to state precisely the purport of our conversation with the unfortunate man, on the subject alluded to in his de­claration, and the circumstances that led to it.

Being at Carrickfergus on Wednesday the 27th ult. to attend an election of an Alderman and Burgesses for that Corporation—the sheriff expressed an intention of going into the jail, for the purpose of seeing if the prisoner (Mr. Orr) had every reasonable accommodation that his un­fortunate situation would admit of, and requested Mr. Bristow to accompany him.—After some enquiries from the prisoner to that effect, and some observations on a religious book which Mr. Orr had been reading, Mr. Bris­tow said to him, "Sir, I have seen a paper which your brother and another gentleman brought to the sheriff on Monday last, with your name annexed to it, in which you acknowledged the justice of your sentence, and cautioned others against being led into bad practices by wicked and designing men." Mr. Bristow added, that it was expected, from what your brother and that gentleman told the she­riff, that it would have been published in last Monday's Belfast paper. "I am confident, said Mr. Bristow to Mr. Orr, that this acknowledgement, which you had for some time withheld, must now afford you great comfort." Mr. Orr replied, "Yes, Sir, it has relieved my mind very much."—Mr. Bristow then said to Mr. Orr, "As you are con­scious of your guilt, it is your bounden duty, if you know of any conspiracy against the State, to make a discovery of any circumstance you may know, which can throw any light upon it, as the only reparation you can make to your injured country." Mr. Orr replied, "I can recollect none at present." The sheriff then said—"Mr. Orr, if, upon reflection, you should hereafter recollect any circum­stances of that nature which you would wish to commu­nicate, I will, upon your application, immediately attend [Page 18] you; or Mr. Bristow, I am certain, will do so, or any other magistrate of the county." Mr. Orr replied, "I thank you, Sir.

This we affirm was the whole substance of what then passed between us and the unfortunate William Orr, and, as nearly as we can recollect, the exact words—and that we never had a conversation with him on that subject at any other time,

The truth of this whole statement we are ready (if ne­cessary) to attest in the most solenm manner.

  • C. SKEFFINGTON, High Sheriff of the County of Antrim.
  • WILLIAM BRISTOW, Sovereign of Belfast.

Thus far the account, printed by permission, except Mr. Orr's Dying Declaration, which was not allowed to ap­pear, and to counteract the effects of which upon the pub­lic mind, the Counter-declaration of the Sheriff and So­vereign was made and published.

But it is necessary for the better understanding of Mr. Orr's unfortunate case, to state some circumstances, which, in the minds of all humane and impartial men, must have great weight, and make them still more deplore his unhappy catastrophe—viz.

It appears, that two of the jurors voluntarily came for­ward and solemnly made oath, ‘That when they retired to their room to deliberate upon the evidence given against Mr. Orr, liquor was introduced, and instead of deliberately and impartially weighing every circumstance, they proceeded to drink, and to such a degree, that there was almost a general intoxication!—Even in this state there was doubt and hesitation, when one of the jurors [the foreman] used threats to intimidate the rest; he charged them with harbouring disloyal principles, and should they refuse to join him in finding Mr. Orr guilty, he denounced vengeance against them.’—It was under this intimidation that the jury, at length, assented to the [Page 19] verdict. And these jurors also swear, ‘That even the [...] their person, and dwellings, nor [...] they had so plentifully drank, could [...] from them such an assent, but that they were imposed upon by [...] persuasion that Mr. Orr's life was in no danger, as their recommendation to mercy, accompanying their verdict, would procure him the [...] of Government.’ They conclude by swear­ing [...] That in their minds the case is a doubtful one, "which doubt they [...] in the verdict itself."

Such is the substance of an affidavit duly and solemnly made in open Court by two of the jurors *—But, if further matter could be [...] to induce the Lord Lieutenant, who is [...] the form and spirit of the Constitution, "to [...] justice in mercy," to stay the arm of the executioner, it offers in the confession of Wheatley, the principal [...] in the persecution—This instrument of persecution deposed on oath before a Magistrate, ‘That he felt great compunction of conscience, not only for the crime which he had committed against Mr. Orr, but for [Page 20] other crimes; and that what he had alleged against Mr. Orr was false.’

It further appears, that Mr. Orr had received a respite of some days, which the public gladly hoped was a prepa­ratory measure to his general pardon—It was during this respite, that attempts were made to persuade him "to con­fess his guilt."—The house-breaker, the robber, and even the murderer, has frequently experienced the Royal elemency—In this case, a mere difference of opinion, at most a po­litical error, was deemed a more heinous crime than any that could be committed!—Accordingly, when it was found that Mr. Orr persisted in declaring his innocence, he was finally sent, by the vengeance of an unrelenting Viceroy, to die by the hands of the public executioner!

  • 1 Arch. Thompson,
  • 2 George Crooks,
  • 3 James M'Naughten,
  • 4 Geo. Pentland,
  • 5 John Bell (of Prospect),
  • 6 Geo. Dickson,
  • 7 Sam. Hemphill,
  • 8 Wm. Laughlin,
  • 9 Geo. Casement,
  • 10 Arthur Johnston,
  • 11 John Hall,
  • 12 Geo. Patterson.

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