Ireland—The Irish State Trials—Great Meeting in Covert Garden

Public Ledger

Citation Information:“Ireland—The Irish State Trials—Great Meeting in Covert Garden,” Public Ledger, v. 17, 18 - 24 July, 1844.



A public meeting of the “inhabitant householders of the city of Westminster,” convened pursuant to a requisition to that effect by the High Bailiff, was held on the 1st inst., in front of the portico of St. Paul’s, Convent Garden, “to take into consideration the proceedings of the Government for the subjugation of of Ireland and the persecution of O’Connell and others for their support of the rights of Irishmen, and to petition Parliament for the immediate release of the State prisoners.” The placards extensively posted on the walls of the ancient city, invited “Englishmen and Irishmen to attend in thousands,” and further announced that “the friend of the people, Duncombe, and a large number of English and Irish members of Parliament would be present.” It is supposed that about ten thousand persons were present.

The High Bailiff having read the requisition addressed to him and the notice published, calling a meeting.

Mr. T. Duncombe came forward to move first resolution, and was loudly cheered. It was as follows:—”That we, the inhabitants of Westminster, in public meeting assembled, do hereby protest against the prosecutions which have recently taken place for what is called sedition and conspiracy, and more especially against the illegal and unjustifiable means resorted to, to procure the conviction of O’Connell and his brother martyrs, now undergoing imprisonment in the Richmond Penitentiary, that, as rational men, we feel called upon to declare to the world our conviction that the Irish State prisoners have not been legally tried, and are consequently unconstitutionally deprived of their liberty. While we further assert, that had the laws been duly administered, it would have appeared that neither O’Connell nor the other prisoners had violated any statuary enactment, nor offended against common law; and therefore this meeting determines to petition Parliament to take such steps as shall insure the immediate liberation of the said prisoners, and prevent a recurrence of those acts of persecution and despotism, which, whilst resorted to under the pretext of law, merely uphold the ascendency of faction by the prostration of national feeling and the suppression of public opinion.” He hoped that they would unanimously adopt that resolution. (Cheers, and loud cries of “of course we will.”) if so, he felt confident that there was not a single enlightened constituency in any city, borough, hamlet, or village in the kingdom that would not follow their noble example; and if it were followed, he was convinced the effect would be to release O’Connell and the other State prisoners, and secure that justice to the people of Ireland, which, until acquired, he trusted they would never cease to demand. (Loud cheers.)

Mr. Lomas Harford seconded the resolution, when the meeting was addressed by Colonel Rawdon, M.P., for the city of Armugh, after which the High Bailiff put the resolution, which was carried unanimously and with acclamation.

The meeting was afterwards addressed by Mr. E. D. Davenport, who moved the adoption of petitions to both Housed of Parliament, founded on the resolution just adopted, and praying for addresses by each branch of the Legislature to the Crown for the immediate release of Mr. O’C’onnell and the other State prisoners. Mr. M’Leod seconded the motion, which was unanimously adopted. Mr. Feargus O’Connor then moved that the petitions adopted be signed by the High Sheriff, on behalf of the meeting; and that the Earl of Randor be requested to present the petition to the Lords, and Mr. Duncombe to the Commons. The motion passed unanimously, when Mr. O’Connor moved the adoption of an address to Mr. O’Connell, which motion was adopted, when the meeting separated.