Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Laurence Butler- Ch. 3: Trial Analysis

Laurence Butler’s trial record gives us considerable information unavailable anywhere else. There are no records in Australia about his trial- contemporary official government documents leave a blank space for ‘trial date’. This is probably because his trial was a court martial trial held in a military court, as was the case for most of the rebels transported to Sydney, rather than a trial in a civil court with a judge and jury.

The trial document reveals the following information about Laurence Butler personally and about his involvement in the rebellion:

A) The trail papers in the National Library only gave the trial date as 10th December, no year given. However, a second document found in the National Archives show that Laurence was arraigned on 1st December 1800, so his trial was actually in December 1800. The last day of the trial was recorded as ‘Saturday 13th December’. Looking at a perpetual calendar, the 13th December fell on a Saturday in the year 1800, confirming the above.

Notably Laurence defended himself and was not represented by counsel. This is probably explained by the following information by T.J. Kiernan:
"Military tribunals were established throughout the country in June 1798; and the courts-martial continued for three years. It was an offence to appear before a justice of the peace on behalf of a rebellion or agrarian prisoner, or to give evidence on his behalf at his trial. Even before the rebellion, back in 1793, the Irish Lord's Secret Committee stated that to help persons accused of being Defenders for the purpose of engaging defence counsel was equivalent to 'promoting or countenancing such disturbances'. " [1]

B) Laurence’s defence was that he was, initially, a reluctant participant and was forced by other rebels to participate, and that he was not a member of the United Irish Society. Notably, a number of very high profile rebels claimed they were drawn into the conflict reluctantly- viz. Thomas Cloney, Father John Murphy, Lord Thomas Esmonde Bt., Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey, John Henry Colclough, Cornelius Grogan, Edward Hay, etc. all stated in their defence that they were reluctantly forced to become actively involved in the conflict and had initially been only interested in being involved in the civil wing of the organization. Thomas Cloney stated he was not a United Irishman or politically involved before the insurrection. Historians beg to differ and state that Cloney was heavily involved in the organization of the United Irish movement prior to the outbreak. The 1798 historian and author Kevin Whelan wrote:
“In a damage-limitation exercise, the less radical wing of the United Irishmen played down their role in organising the rebellion (as in the evasive, apologetic accounts of Edward Hay, Thomas Cloney, Joseph Holt and William Farrell).” [2]  
We will never know the true extent of Laurence’s involvement prior to the uprising, but his harsh sentence and the fact that he was never granted an Absolute Pardon, as many of his fellow transportees received, including men convicted of the same charges as Laurence (eg. John Ahern of Tintern Co. Wexford, convicted of being a rebel captain and of murder, transported to Sydney with Laurence, and on receiving his Absolute Pardon he returned to Wexford), indicates Laurence must have played a more prominent role than his defence arguments imply. He may have even received a death sentence that was subsequently commuted by Cornwallis to transportation for life.

C) The witnesses Laurence called to give evidence on his behalf were distinctly unhelpful. The first, Sarah Donally, when asked where she was on the 29th May, replied that she was two fields off and could not tell one man from another.
The second, Anne Berry, a neighbour, when asked if she knew of Laurence having been taken away by force, replied she did not as she was in a ‘back house’ but that his wife had told her.
The third and fourth, John Wright and Samuel Hawkins were even less helpful, Wright revealing that Butler had carried the colours at Tubberneering and that he had heard Butler had been ‘rather active’ during the rebellion. Although Protestant, Wright must have been very familiar with Butler as he recounted that Butler visited him while he was in bed at 10 o’clock at night. Hawkins revealed that Butler had obtained a ‘protection’ for him from ‘Murphy the priest’, one of the leaders of the rebellion, thereby linking Butler with Murphy. He also confirmed that Butler had ‘carried the colours’. The fifth witness, Mary Brown, called after an adjournment, revealed she had been at Butler’s house on 29th  May and stated that Mat Cavanagh had come and taken him away and made him participate against his will, and that she had accompanied the rebels from Ferns to Clone and was beside Butler all of that time, despite him being mounted. The tribunal then appeared to question her impartiality, asking when and by whom she was summoned and whether they had had a conversation about the trial.

D) The document reveals that Laurence lived with his wife in Ferns, a very small and ancient townland in the north of County Wexford. Ferns was one of the first Christian places of worship in Ireland, and was the seat of the McMurrough Kavanagh family, Kings of Leinster. One of the witnesses when asked by Butler where she was during the rebellion, replied that she was mostly at his house, but at the time he was taken away she was in “a back house”. Whether this implied there were multiple dwellings is difficult to determine. One would assume that most of the residents of this small village consisting of one long street, would have been born in the local vicinity. There was no known  industry in Ferns which is surrounded by farmlands and forests, but the nearby forests may have been the source of the timber used in his cabinet making business. He may also have been employed in fitting out the very large house being constructed at that time for the Protestant Bishop of Ferns, known as St Aiden's or The Palace. 
It is unlikely that Laurence moved to Ferns from a distant region, but he may have come from another part of Co Wexford. 
In a  'List of persons who suffered Losses of Property, in the County of Wexford in 1798', published in 1800.  a George Butler is listed, occupation: 'mason'; residence: Ferns; place loss sustained: Residence; nature of loss: bed, bedding, wearing apparel, provision, gun; sum claimed £24.7s.1d.; sum allowed- blank.
(Source- Find My Past). It would be interesting to know if, and how closely this George Butler was related to Laurence Butler.

E) The battle of Kilthomas, just north of Ferns, was fought on the first day of the uprising on the 26th May by rebels led by Father Michael Murphy the parish priest of Ballycanew near Gorey who was an active United Irishman, and Miles Byrne. This was considered the formal outbreak of the rebellion. Fires were lit on the nearby hills to alert the rebels that the uprising had begun. Although outnumbered, the soldiers from the small cavalry unit garrisoned at Ferns had superior weapons and training. The battle soon became a massacre and the entire rebel army broke ranks and fled, while over one hundred were killed. The small cavalry units retreated back to Enniscorthy, Ferns and Carnew. As Kilthomas is only a short distance from Ferns, Laurence and his family would have been well aware of the fierce battle taking place. Some of those fleeing may have taken shelter with him.
The Fern’s Parish priest was Fr. Edward Redmond, and it is unknown when he became directly involved in the rebellion. According to Sir Richard Musgrave, Fr. Ned Redmond was actively involved including participating in the Battle of Newtownbarry on 1st June, however, he was acquitted at his court-martial due to lack of evidence. Fr. Redmond wrote in a letter to the widow of Rev. Samuel Heydon who was recently murdered by the rebels, dated 30 June 1798, that he had "not been left myself the second shirt or the second pair of stockings, besides many other things by the Rebels, and was obliged to lie out in the ditches for eight nights, because I would not join them." Whether he did eventually join them is uncertain. As rebel units were formed by Parish, Laurence would have been associated with Fr. Ned Redmond. The following day Fr. John Murphy’s men completely wiped out the government troops at the battle of Oulart Hill.

As the small population of Ferns was predominantly Protestant, most of the loyalist refugees had fled from Ferns to the safety of Enniscorthy, and the local garrison had followed them. By nightfall, much of northern Wexford was in the hands of the rebels. On Monday 28th May, a cache of arms at Camolin was seized and distributed, and they made their way to Ferns. By now they numbered about three to four thousand men. They got to Ferns about 9 or 10 o’clock at night and found the place almost abandoned. The rebels proceeded to ransack the village and the home of the Protestant Bishop of Ferns, “stripping curtains and carpets to make tents and ripping covers of the books in his library to make saddles”.[3] This was at Saint Aiden's also called The Palace in Ferns. Rev. Samuel Heydon's houise was likewise stripped. Shortly after noon they marched out of Ferns along the road to Enniscorthy, which became their next objective. At this point they may have tried to persuade Laurence to join them.

It is not known if Laurence also participated at the battle of Newtownbarry on the Friday 1st June. The rebels led by Fr. Mogue Kearns and Miles Byrne were badly defeated and the rout turned into a massacre. In an hour or less it was over and the rebels had lost well over a hundred men, compared with a mere handful of soldiers killed. The survivors made their way back to Enniscorthy and then to Carrigrew Hill. The disaster was complete and unexpected.
According to Sir Richard Musgrave in his ‘Memoirs’ written shortly after the Rebellion, the parish priest of Ferns, 'Fr. Edward Redmond, marched at the head of his rebellious parishioners to the battle of Newtownbarry, along with Lewis Bulger as his aid-de-camp and butler of the reverend Mr Heyden, who robbed his master’s house at Ferns, and after the murder of that gentleman, insulted Mrs Heyden at Enniscorthy', for which he was transported to Sydney on the ‘Anne’. (refer to deposition by Mrs Heydon, also re Stephen Lett in Musgrave’s “Memoirs”). According to Musgrave, “Redmond was tried for it, but was acquitted, because people were afraid to prosecute; of which Colonel St Leger president of the court martial, assured me; and some persons, who saw him at their head, informed me of it.” Possibly Laurence was in this Ferns cell, as the rebel army was divided into their Parish groups. Musgrave also stated that “father Roche (Philip?), the general, who commanded there, owned afterwards when a prisoner at Wexford, that most of the men encamped at Vinegar Hill were engaged in the attack on Newtownbarry.” [4]
However, Fr. Redmond in his letter of 30 June 1798, explained the situation about the Heydons in a very different light. While admitting that the rebels had plundered these two houses, even under his censure, he acquitted Lewis Bulger of complicity, saying that Bulger had " your interest at heart very much" and had lodge her belongings along with his own in Mr Gough's house at Milltown, but soldiers who had encamped there on the Bishop's lawn plundered Mr Gough's house and "did not leave a sixpence behind them belonging to any person."
(Ref. Musgrave Depositions, Trinity College Dublin- courtesy of W. Sweetman.)

An interesting side issue concerns Fr. Ned Redmond of Ferns, who had another claim to fame: He saved the life of Napoleon from drowning when he was a student in France, Ned Redmond was Parish Priest from 1786 until 1819. The thatched chapel he built at Clologue in 1788 was burned by Yeomen on November18, 1798. Clologue is a couple of miles east of Ferns.
The following newspaper article came from the ‘Dublin Penny Journal’ vol.1 p.128:
The Rev. Mr. Redmond, P.P., of Ferns, in Ireland, when studying in France, spent a summer in Bas Poictou ; Napoleon was there at the same time, and both slept in the same apartment. The Corsican was continually making machinery, which he would try on a water-course. One day the party went shooting-Napoleon of the number. He was not very active; and, in leaping over a deep brook, fell in. He was almost drowned, when Mr. Redmond presented the end of his fowling-piece to him (having first dis-charged it), and thus rescued from an ignoble death the man who afterwards ruled half the world.[5]

F) Laurence was associated with ‘Father Murphy’, and asked him for a ‘Protection’ for witness Samuel Hawkins. There were two famous ‘Father Murphys’ in this rebellion- Father John Murphy of Boolavogue near Ferns, and Father Michael Murphy of Ballycanew near Gorey. The priest referred to in the trial was probably Father John Murphy whom Laurence would have known as he was a native of the Ferns area, and his parish church of Boolavogue was within a short walking distance from Ferns.[6] The men accused of setting fire to the houses in Clone were said to have been in Fr. John Murphy’s group.

G) Laurence was at the Vinegar Hill rebel camp on the 29th May, according to witness William Sinnott, who appears to have been either another rebel or associated with the rebels. He may have been Father William Synnott, parish priest of Enniscorthy, whose role was described in Musgrave’s “Memoirs”:
“Musgrave asked whether Mr Synnott did not frequently resort to Vinegar Hill while it was in possession of the rebels, Mr Nunn answering in the affirmative.” It was also suggested to Nunn that Mr Synnott, who had saved the life of Nunn, could have saved any of the protestants, while the rebels were daily massacring them, to which Mr Nunn said that he believed he could.[7]

Laurence’s witness William Sinnott stated that when he was in Ferns, “he heard the cry of the town that Grimes had killed Carton”. He then went with the Rebels when they set out for Vinegar Hill. He said “a man then rode up that the Rebels said was Larry Butler and that they turned about and went to Grimes’s house where he saw them put him to death”. When asked by the court if he would know Laurence Butler if he saw him, he replied that he never saw him before or since and could not positively identify Laurence as the man he saw. Laurence, when cross-examining Sinnott, charged that Sinnott was part of Matt Cavanagh’s group that came to take him prisoner that very morning, which Sinnott denied. Laurence asked Sinnott: “Did not you come and take me a Prisoner on that very morning? I have a right to know you well.”  Sinnott replied: “I did not. I never knew where your house was. I never saw you until the time you came up.” The disparity between the two men’s knowledge and recognition of each other would appear to suggest that Sinnott was trying to protect himself from association with the rebels during the conflict.

H) Laurence returned home the same night he was forced to leave. Following the first battle of Enniscorthy on the 28th May, the rebels set up camp on Vinegar Hill, a hill next to the town on which there was a windmill which became a makeshift prison. By the middle of the day most of the prominent United Irishmen had arrived. By this stage the camp held nearly 10,000 men. Some of the rank and file had formed reconnaissance bands and these had gone out in the surrounding countryside on the 29th May to ‘encourage’ the faint-hearted to come into the camp. It is likely that at least some of the ‘new’ recruits came as a result of intimidation. This was when Laurence Butler claimed he was forced to join them. Whether he went willingly, or whether he was found “hiding under the bed” as one witness stated, cannot be known for sure. A few of these bands renewed the vengeance killings they had carried out the day before. This included the attack on George Grimes. They set up a tribunal to hear the cases against the many Protestants captured in and near the town of Enniscorthy, and many were subsequently brutally butchered by the rebels, according to several depositions. Laurence may have been repelled by these atrocities taking place on Vinegar Hill and the loss of control by certain factions, and this may explain why he “disguised himself in women’s clothes” and returned home that same day. Ferns was only about 4 miles north of Enniscorthy. His defence witness stated that Laurence returned to the camp the next day, voluntarily, probably having decided that there now was no choice but to join the insurrection- viz. Wednesday 30th May. This was the day the rebels marched to Wexford Town and captured it. Byrne states that, “It had been decided that a small permanent camp should be kept up on Vinegar Hill, the army at length set out on its march to attack Wexford.”  [8]  Whether Laurence joined the march to capture Wexford Town, or stayed with the unit on Vinegar Hill, we cannot know.

Again, it would seem that Laurence returned to his home after the northern units returned north from attacking Wexford Town. By the 3rd June, the northern units had gathered on Carrigrew Hill just south of Gorey. There was a stalemate between the rebels and the government forces, neither willing to take offensive action. The government forces were closing in on the county but were still holding off from launching any major attacks on the insurgents. The time was used to drill the men, and all those who had scattered into the countryside to check on their families were called back to camp. This was the day that rebels Jim Irwin and Paddy Connors came to get Laurence from his home and ordered him to return and “carry the colors”, and that he “should not run away as he did before”, according to witness Mary Brown. John Wright and Samuel Hawkins, when cross-examined at the trial confirmed that Laurence carried the colors at Tubberneering on the following day. Sometime in the afternoon a detachment of several thousand arrived from the Vinegar Hill camp and these brought the Carrigrew army up to at least 10,000, maybe as many as 15,000.

I) Laurence admitted participating in the battle of Tubberneering, a well-documented battle that took place on the 4th June, in which the rebels scored a significant victory over the Government troops. Laurence ‘carried the colors’, which meant ‘the standard of the United Irish army’. Each Parish Unit had a separate flag to which they rallied when called to march out of camp to battle.

Rebellion historian and author Thomas Graham wrote:
“Each of the ranks had their own distinctive insignia, for sergeants a simple green ribbon, for captains a harp with reversed laurel leaves, for colonels a harp with shamrock leaves, and for adjutants general a harp unstrung, bearing the motto ‘Ireland forever’. Their duties were also clearly defined. Each man was to equip himself with a haversack containing a week’s provisions, a kettle or pot, a can and spoon, straps for wrapping up a great coat or blanket, and pieces of green material for putting on pike heads in order to frighten cavalry. Every four sergeants were responsible for a spade, a fork, a pick and a bill-hook each. Captains were responsible for one good horse and cart per company, its standard (on a two-foot square piece of green cloth, mounted on a ten foot pole), and its bugler. Colonels were responsible for the supply of gunpowder and were to ensure each regiment had its own bullet-mould and someone proficient in using it to make ball cartridges. It was recommended that they, and the adjutants general above them, had either army or military experience, in order to drill the captains, who in turn would drill the sergeants, who would drill the men.” [9]

Miles Byrne explained the role of these standard bearers:
Carrigrew Hill camp 3rd June (the day before the battle of Tubberneering)-
Drums or some musical instrument was wanted, to call the men to assemble (consisting now of about ten or twelve thousand men). This deficiency was remedied by the standard bearers of each corps accompanied by a small guard, marching through the camp and crying to the men of such a corps to join their colours forthwith; and as the name of the baronies, towns or parishes that the corps belonged to was always mentioned, it probably answered the purpose better than the sound of a drum to the ears of the country people, who as yet not having anything to do with the drill sergeant, would be quite at a loss to know what the drumming meant: but the sweet cry of the name of their native barony or village roused them up at once. How often have I admired the alertness of these brave fellows at the cry of the standard bearer “Shelmaliere men come to your colours”, “Men of Monaseed corps, join your colours immediately, we are going to march, etc.” The standard bearer of the Monaseed corps was quite proud of his splendid colours, and with reason, for it was one of the handsomest of the camp, being adorned with harps and green emblems, put on by handsome young ladies who sympathised in our sacred cause. The standard bearer, Murray had the honour of taking this standard himself the first night of the rising at Earl Mountnorris at Camolen Park- it belonged to one of the volunteer corps of 1782.”[10]

Byrne continued, praising the men who fought at Tubberneering:
The result of this day’s fighting was incalculable for our cause; to see such a number of fine fellows rushing into the greatest danger for the love of their country and its independence, as military discipline as yet could scarcely be expected to prevail. I wish I could recollect all their names to mention them in this narrative, as a small tribute to the memory of such true patriots, who risked everything that was dear to them on earth to see Ireland as she ought to be. That day, the 4th June, the great power of the pike as a war weapon was fully shewn.” [11]

It would appear that Laurence's close personal friend in Sydney, fellow rebel Michael Hayes, was also present at Vinegar Hill and at the Battle of Tubberneering. In a  book "Proceedings of a Court-martial, held upon Captain Philip Hay of the Third Regiment of Foot, by order of Maj. General Hunter, commanding His Majesty's troops in Wexford, July 27, 1798", (pub Gale Ecco, USA 2010), it is revealed that Michael Hayes was called upon to give evidence at Philip Hay's court martial:
Michael Hayes of Ballymurn sworn:
Prisoner (Philip Hay) asked: Did you see me at Vinegar Hill and know me to be obliged to march off with the party and who commanded it?
Answer. I did see you and knew you to be obliged to march off with the party which was commanded by Edward Roche.
Q. Did you not go with the party and do you recollect what orders Roche gave you on the road?
A. I did. Roche was taking guns from some men and giving them to others, who could use them, and ordering us to such places where we could get something to eat and drink, and ordering the neighbouring people to follow us with provisions.
Q. Do you know whether the roads and crossroads were guarded, and whether it would have been easy to escape?
A. The roads and crossroads were guarded and a password given, without which, no one was allowed to pass.
Q., by Court. For what purpose did the party march from Vinegar Hill and did the prisoner take an active part in that detachment?
A. It marched for the purpose of taking Gorey, he did not take an active part.
Q., by Prisoner. Among the party who marched from Vinegar Hill were there many upon horseback as well as myself?
A. There were numbers. I, myself, was on horseback.
(Proceedings of a court-martial, pp 31-32)

This would appear to be around the time that the Battle of Tubberneering took place on 4 June, which was when they proceeded to take Gorey. Michael’s evidence indicates he may have participated in the Battle, along with Laurence Butler.

J) Laurence had been arrested sometime just after the Rebellion and put in Wexford Gaol. At some stage, he had apparently either “broken out” of the gaol or got out of gaol by some other means and returned to his home, before being re-arrested. Following the executions of the rebel leaders in Wexford Town, “Lord Cornwallis issued proclamations offering protections, inviting all those who had taken part in the war, except the chiefs, to return to their homes where they should receive his formal protection. Thousands returned home. However, the protections they obtained were of no use to them, if it was ascertained that they had ever been present when houses were burned, or if they had assisted at the battle of Bally Ellis, or they were proved to be leaders. No protection under these circumstances could save them.” [12]
It would seem that Laurence may have availed himself of this offer of a protection, as did Thomas Cloney, an active and famous rebel Captain, both of whom were re-arrested towards the end of the year, and notably both were accused of burning houses. Thomas Cloney, a fellow rebel leader from Moneyhore near Enniscorthy, wrote in his “Narrative”-
“Proclamations offering mercy and protection to deluded and repentant rebels had been issued. I surrendered myself to General Grose about the first of August, by whose orders I was confirmed a close prisoner at Enniscorthy until he fully investigated what had been my conduct and maturely weighed my claims of mercy. Upon the 16th August General Hunter executed a paper, which truly recited that I confessed myself to have been a Rebel leader, expressed my contrition, and took the Oath of Allegiance, and by which he granted protection and, as I conceived, pardon. Being so protected and pardoned, I resided in the town of Enniscorthy from thence to the 25th March 1799, when I repaired to my farm house, where I resided until the 8th May, when I was arrested.” [13]
A similar situation applying to Laurence may explain why he was taken up “a long time ago” and then, as the witness stated, he “got out of Wexford Gaol, some way or other”. He may have received a similar “protection” after taking the Oath of Allegiance. He may have then been re-arrested following the accusation of his involvement in the murder of Grimes and the burning of the houses in Clone.

K) Laurence rode a horse during the rebellion, which was one of the criteria used to determine the rank of captain. It also indicates he was reasonably comfortable financially, for a Catholic. His witness Anne Berry, stated she was mostly at his house during the rebellion. She also stated she lived next door to the Butlers. Witness Mary Brown was also at Laurence’s house at the beginning of the rebellion. Whether, they were servants, friends, or merely neighbours taking refuge, will remain unknown.

L) Laurence’s main defense was his unwilling participation in the uprising. The female witnesses he questioned stated that when a party of rebels led by Matt Cavanagh arrived, Laurence was found “hiding under the bed”, and that he escaped from the group that same day by “disguising himself under a woman’s cloak”; that six days later he was forced to carry the colors at the battle of Tubberneering; and that he was not ‘United’ which means a member of the ‘United Irishmen Society.’ Although he denied being a rebel captain, other witnesses claimed he had played an active part in the rebellion, and that he was indeed in command. John Wright, when asked if Laurence was known in Ferns as an active rebel or otherwise, replied that, although he did not hear much of Laurence during the rebellion, afterwards he heard that he had been rather active.
Matt Cavanagh and his group must have known Laurence quite well, as they called him ‘Larry’.
Matt Cavanagh was indirectly related to Miles Byrne: Byrne recounted: (after the retreat from the Vinegar Hill defeat), “I was marching to join the camp at the head of those brave men I had just assembled in the town, when my nephew James Kennedy (son of Miles Byrne’s step brother), a young lad of twelve years of age, came running up to me in tears and told me his step father Matt Kavanagh, had been killed by his side during the battle of Vinegar Hill.” [14]

M) Laurence’s witness Samuel Hawkins, a Protestant who lived in the Ferns area, obviously knew Laurence personally as Laurence had obtained a protection for him from Fr. Murphy. He was written up in Musgrave’s “Memoirs” for one of his heroic deeds during the uprising. The initial event of the uprising in Wexford, involved a party of rebels led by Fr. John Murphy who attacked a troop of Camolin yeomen cavalry led by a Lieutenant Bookey at Harrow (near Ferns), killing Bookey and defeating his troop.
Sir Richard Musgrave describes:
“When Bookey set out with his troop, he left a guard in his house, consisting of five Roman Catholic servants, and two protestants, Jacob Ward and Samuel Hawkins. Between twelve and one o’clock in the morning, about five hundred rebels, headed by father Murphy, surrounded the house of Rockspring, on which the five papists deserted, and the two protestants were left alone, with four guns, to defend the house. The rebels called to them to deliver up their arms, which the two protestants said they would do, and immediately discharged four guns at them; and they continued to load and fire at them with all possible celerity. The rebels, incensed at their spirited conduct, threw stones at the windows, fired into them with their muskets, and at last broke open the door with a sledge. As some of the assailants had fallen by the fire of the besieged, others, dreading the same fate, were heard to cry out, “Let us retreat, before more of us are killed.” The rebels having entered the house, got lights, and assembled in the hall; on which the two protestants ceased firing, and placed themselves on the head of the stairs, with their muskets, to prevent their foes from ascending. Father Murphy ordered some of his men to go up stairs, and learn who the persons were that had the audacity to oppose him; but having hesitated to obey his commands, he drew his sword, and threatened them instantly with death. Two of them having attempted to comply, were shot before they proceeded far, and tumbled down with their comrades. As the last resource, to be revenged of the besieged, they set fire to the house; yet the two protestants, with the most deliberate valour, continued to charge and fire, till the floor, a prey to the flames, began to crack under them; on which they repaired to the upper story, but even there they were much scorched with the flames, and almost stifled with smoke. But as they ceased to fire, the rebels imagined they were suffocated or consumed, and that they had obtained ample revenge; and fearing that the dawn, which was not far distant, would expose them to the yeomanry of Enniscorthy, who had been scouring the country, they retreated, by which the lives of these two brave men were preserved.[15]
Musgrave also states that Samuel Hawkins was No. 120 in the “Calendar of Protestant Prisoners in Wexford Gaol”[16] on the 20th June, the first 97 of whom were hauled out and brutally murdered on Wexford Bridge by Captain Dixon. He may have been preserved by the ‘Protection’ Laurence had obtained for him from Fr. Murphy, which may explain why he was called as a witness in Laurence’s defense, and for his vague and non-accusatory answers in reply to Laurence’s questioning.

N) The witness for the prosecution, named Anne Pepper, was probably the same witness, Anne Piper, of Clone, who gave a deposition against William Goff (Gough), a tanner who lived about 4 miles from Ferns, and was convicted of being a “principal in the rebellion”. He was transported on the “Friendship” with Laurence Butler’s friend Michael Hayes. (See Musgrave’s transcript of Goff’s activities, in chapter on the 1798 rebels.) Ann Piper’s husband was one of the Protestants killed by the rebels at the Vinegar Hill camp, and their property at Clone destroyed, which may explain her willingness to give evidence against the Catholic rebels in her area. Her house was one of those in Clone set on fire on the 29th May by the rebel party of which Laurence was accused of being part of:
Musgrave’s ‘Memoirs’ recounts the ‘Deposition of Anne Piper’:
 “Anne Piper widow of the late George Piper, came before me this day, and made oath on the Holy Evangelists, and saith, That she and her late husband, George Piper, lived in the parish of Clone, in the county of Wexford, where their house and offices were burned, and all their substance was destroyed by the rebels, on the twenty-ninth, or thirtieth of May, 1798, for no other reason, as she verily believes, except that they were protestants; for the property of all the loyal protestants in that county was destroyed.” [17]
In Sydney, William Goff/Gough set up his tannery at Nos. 6 and 7 Pitt Street. When Goff received an absolute pardon and returned home to Wexford, Laurence Butler bought both properties. Goff wrote to Michael Hayes and his Wexford friends remaining in Sydney when he returned home.

O) Witness Anne Grimes stated that her son George Grimes was a yeoman in Captain Richards Corps viz. the Enniscorthy Cavalry. Captain Richards played an important role in the first few days of the uprising and is mentioned several times in Musgrave’s ‘Memoirs’. On the first Saturday, the 26th May, according to Musgrave, after responding to the cries for help by Protestants near Tincurry who had been attacked by rebels led by Fr. Murphy, “Richards and Grogan’s units repaired to Father Murphy’s house where they discovered that he had concealed his furniture in a pit in an adjacent field before he had set out on his campaign. They set fire to Fr. Murphy’s house as a punishment for the atrocities which he and his followers had perpetuated. Some persons have asserted that the yeomen were the aggressors on this occasion, and that Fr. Murphy would not have embarked in the rebellion if he had not been provoked by the burning of his house and his chapel….. In justice to captain Richards, I think it right to say, that he would not suffer any of his party to burn Fr. Murphy’s chapel, or to insult his vestments which were found in a pit (his testimonial and diploma) near his house, but that, on the contrary, he insisted that nothing of the kind should be done, having said “Punish the man, but do not mock or insult his religion.” The yeomen cavalry in their progress that night, overtook some of the rebels in arms, whom they put to death and burned some of their houses.”[18]
(It should be noted that Musgrave was Protestant and his ‘Memoirs’ showed a heavy bias against the Catholic rebels.)
Musgrave also describes the important role Captain Richards and his cavalry played in the Battle of Enniscorthy, on Monday the 28th May, supporting Captain Snowe at the bridge and at Duffrey Gate, losing eleven of his men and 16 horses. [19] Grimes must have been part of these events, before his ‘murder’ the following day, the 29th.

P) There is no judgement of guilt or sentence attached to the document. It is only known that Laurence Butler received a life sentence and transportation. Whether Laurence was found guilty of acting as the rebel Captain who commanded the group who killed Grimes and set fire to the houses in Clone, both crimes punishable by death, or whether he was found to be a reluctant participant is not known, however, it is unlikely he was found guilty of this charge of murder as none of his witnesses actually stated that they heard him give the order to kill Grimes, just that he was with the group and ‘appeared’ to be in command. If he had been found guilty, he may have been initially sentenced to death and then, on appeal, his sentence may have been changed to transportation for life. Similarly, there are a few records of Irish convicts transported to Sydney, whose sentences were changed thus. He was probably convicted of “suspicion of murder”, as applied to other transported rebels. However, he must have been found guilty of acting as a rebel captain, as several witnesses stated he ‘carried the colours at the Battle of Tubberneering’ to which he admitted; he rode a horse, and appeared to be in command.
Laurence submitted a statement of defence which has been lost. It was probably similar to the written defence statement submitted by fellow rebel Michael Murphy who was transported on the Friendship in 1799/80. His trial took place at Waterford City in July 1799. 
Murphy's  Defence Statement listed:
Firstly, he said that he had been in rebellion but had received protection of the law.
Secondly, he denied that he was a leader or a captain.
Thirdly, he challenged the statements of the witnesses against him, viz. that Kearney was an approver and a murderer. As to what the two women had said, he noted that first one was in child-bed at the time and the other had testified that he was forced into rebellion.
Fourthly, he had a protection-paper from Major Kingsmill, given to him by William Tighe of the Inistioge Yeomen Infantry on 6th December 1798.
Fifthly, no single instance had been produced to show that he acted as a captain. As to the horse, he stated that others used horses too although they were not officers. He had the green coat since before the rebellion.
Sixthly, he said that no act of barbarity was alleged against him.
These were very similar to the arguments used by Laurence Butler at his trial.
(ref: Patrick C. Power, Courts-martial of 1798-9, The Irish Historical Press, Kilkenny 1997, pp.16-18)

Q) Newspaper Report
A newspaper report reveals that there was more than one Butler in Wexford implicated in the rebellion in County Wexford.
Freemans Journal, 9 August 1798
“Dublin August 12:
A few days ago two offenders who had acted in the late Rebellion in the County of Wexford, named Michael Butler, and Spencer were apprehended in this city in the following manner. When they skulked to the metropolis, they went to the servant of a Gentleman they knew, and he secreted them in his master’s house; when one of them communicated to this man that he had found a banker’s note of this city for the sum of 300 pounds, but not knowing how to apply for smaller convenient notes, said, if the servant would obtain them for him, he should have a third of the whole. The servant, induced by the premium acceded, and gave five guineas to his acquaintance on receiving the 300 pound note from him, to answer some pressing exigencies. The servant, fearing that this note was not fairly come by, applied in confidence to a Clerk in the employ of his master, who affecting to favour the man on the occasion, got possession of the note, and afterwards had the two fellows above-mentioned apprehended.
When arrested, it was discovered they had come from Wexford, and recognized to be the murderers of a respectable gentleman named Chamney of that place, whose house they had pillaged, and among the rest of the note above-mentioned. They were transmitted to Wexford for trial, and strong proof being against them, for this and other horrid atrocities, it is likely, ere this, they have suffered a just punishment for their crimes.” [20] Notably, no Michael Butler or anyone named Spencer were transported or executed in Wexford.[21] However, a Michael Butler was named on the Atlas 2 indents but his entry was crossed out and he did not arrive in the colony. He was aged 26 and was tried at Kilkenny in March 1802, shortly before the ship left Waterford, and was given a life sentence. He may have successfully appealed his sentence. Whether he was the same Michael Butler is unknown and the difference in time would suggest not. 
The victim referred to, could have been one of two possible contenders. A man named J. Chamney was on a list of murdered Protestants in Musgrave’s “Memoirs”. He was from Horetown, between Wexford Town and New Ross, just west of Taghmon. However, Musgrave includes ‘J. Chamney from Horetown’ on the “List of Protestant Inhabitants of the Parish of Ferns Murdered in the Rebellion”. Horetown is not in the Parish of Ferns, so why Chamney was included on this list is unclear, unless he was murdered in the Ferns Parish. Maybe he was part of the Yeoman Militia units in the area. .[22]

Interestingly, the above named Butler had fled to Dublin to hide, a similar action taken by fellow rebel Miles Byrne who managed to stay hidden in Dublin for several years before fleeing to France following the abortive Robert Emmett uprising in 1803. Miles Byrne, under the leadership of Fr. Murphy, had played an important role in the battle of Tubberneering. Similarly, many rebels managed to hide in Dublin before taking ship to the Continent.

The second contender is a ‘Captain Chamney and his nephew Joseph Chamney from Ballyraheene’ killed in the battle of Ballyraheene on the 2nd July, just following the battle of Ballyellis, led by Garrett and William Byrne of Ballymanus. Ballyraheene and Ballymanus were closely situated just over the Wicklow border, and Chamney was reputedly a friend of the Ballymanus Byrnes. Chamney and his yeomen corps were attacked and retreated to Chamney’s house, which the rebels repeatedly attempted to burn down with them in it, which they strongly defended. However, they were eventually defeated by the rebels and Chamney and his nephew killed.[23]

If the Michael Butler concerned was involved in the killing of the Horetown Chamney, that case may therefore relate to the Butler of Taghmon  and/or the Captain Butler related in Jane Adams account (both discussed later). And it should be noted that the newspaper article did specify that Chamney was from Wexford.
NB. Musgrave gives a full list of those Wexford rebels who were “executed in the town of Wexford, for the crimes of rebellion, murder, &c from the retaking of the town by the royal army, June 21, 1798 to the 18 December 1800” [24] 

The fact that they went to the house in Dublin of a “gentleman they knew” would suggest that they were not of the lower working classes. It also suggests that they had been to Dublin before.
Whether he was related to Laurence is also unknown. 

R) Laurence Butler’s and Thomas Cloney’s Defence Statements
Laurence Butler submitted a written defence and requested that it be annexed to the record. The document appears not to have survived, however the basis of his defence at the court martial seems to have been that he was press-ganged in the rebellion. It is a pity this document has not survived for us to read (although it could still be part of the Rebellion Papers in the National Archives of Ireland). The basis of his defence statement was probably similar to that of rebel leader Thomas Cloney.

The rebel by the name of Thomas Cloney played an important role in the uprising and subsequently wrote a book about his experiences, “Personal Narrative of the ‘Wexford Insurrection’ in 1798” in which he explains:
“It was my lot like many other peaceably disposed persons to have been unexpectedly carried away by the torment that overran the county of Wexford, in the year 1798, and though I had never entered into any political engagement, and did not belong to any political society, though I was perfectly free from having contributed towards raising or promoting the Insurrection, it was my misfortune before it closed to take an active part, and to fill a conspicuous situation.” (Chap. 1, page 1)
Cloney was charged with “being a General-Colonel, Major or Captain in the Rebel army during the late Rebellion and secondly for being present at the Murder of John Gill, on Vinegar Hill, on the 29th May 1798”, Notably these charges were very similar to Laurence Butler’s.

Cloney’s trial defence statement stated:
“Before the Rebellion broke out in Wexford, I never harboured a revolutionary sentiment. Possessing a property superior to my wants, and educated in habits of industry, political subjects scarce ever occupied my mind, and I was perfectly contented with those laws and that Constitution under which I felt myself prosperous and protected. I defy the most active scrutiny to discover any word or act of mine to denote that I was a political agitator, or at all concerned in any of those associations from whence principally the rebellion sprung. Suddenly and unexpectedly I found the whole country in arms- his Majesty’s government as it were dissolved, and almost the entire of this county in the possession of the Rebels. I was informed, and the scenes I witnessed rendered the information credible, that the rebel army was everywhere triumphant and that even the Capital was in their possession. Revolution appeared proved such an opinion to have been, it was entertained by many loyal men of this County, who were much wiser and better informed than I was. Surrounded as I was on every side by armed and infuriate rebels, I had no option but to lead or follow etc.” [25]

Cloney, a captain (sometimes referred to as a ‘General’), led his men from the Bantry area (just south and south west of Enniscorthy), in the taking of Wexford Town, and at the Battle of New Ross. He survived the uprising, faced a court-martial and was imprisoned before being exiled in late 1799. He returned under an amnesty in 1803 (Treaty of Amiens), was re-arrested and kept in Killmainham jail for three years, being liberated by the Fox administration in 1806. He lived a quiet life in County Carlow where he wrote his story which was published in 1832.

It would appear that Cloney’s situation before the insurrection was similar to Laurence’s situation that resulted in Laurence’s involvement- living a peaceable life, not politically active or a member of the United Irish Society, yet, due to the escalation of events after the initial outbreak, was obliged to take an active role and lead the men from his district.

Cloney wrote about his escape from Wexford Town following their defeat, in which he describes a similar action to the one Laurence took when the rebels first came for him:
“On the third day they came again, and such was the alarm my friends were in, that they absolutely forced me to go under the bed of the lady who had lain in only the night or day before…. On the night of that day my friends held a consultation as to what I should do to escape, and it was agreed on by them, that I should be furnished with a yeoman’s undress jacket and cap. Etc.”  [26]

Cloney then made a perilous escape from Wexford Town and made his way north to hide with friends near his home at Moneyhore, near Enniscorthy, until the worst excesses of revenge were past.
Miles Byrne described Thomas Cloney of Moneyhore (near Enniscorthy):
“Cloney, though young, being about 24 years of age, was a man of the soundest judgement, the purest honour and coolest bravery, and well fitted to be a chief. He was six feet, two or three inches high, well-proportioned and handsome. He would, had the war continued and succeeded, not only have become a good general, but a statesman and senator. He was ever ready to save the lives of all prisoners, and often at the risk of his own; still he was cruelly persecuted for his humanity and uprightness. His long imprisonment and sufferings are well known to every true Irish patriot. I feel at a loss for expressions to do justice to the memory of Mr Cloney.” [27]  

Cloney, a Catholic, was related to the Butlers living near New Ross. Byrne relates another incident in 1803: “A Mr Butler, a county of Wexford gentleman residing in Dublin, invited me one Sunday to a dinner party he was giving at George Nowland’s Hotel at Maynooth, in honour of the brave Thomas Cloney, who had just returned from England, where he had been exiled after his trial and imprisonment in 1798”. [28] Byrne concluded: “Thus the brave Cloney’s long imprisonment, and the many persecutions he had to bear up against, for the love of Ireland, well entitle him to hold a rank amongst the immortal Irish martyrs who suffered all kinds of torture and persecution for the freedom and independence of their beloved country.”[29]

As quoted above, another rebel who recounted his experiences during the rebellion was Miles Byrne of Monaseed, a courageous young man of 18 years of age, who was also involved in the battle of Tubberneering, and was renowned for his brave actions and leadership qualities during the conflict. Following the rebellion, he hid in Dublin for a time, then escaped to the Continent where he lived out his long life, fighting in the French army, before retiring to Paris to write a book about his experiences, Memoirs of Miles Byrne, edited by his widow. He never returned to his beloved country.

Miles Byrne (from his 'Memoirs")

Father John Murphy of Boolavogue

The priest, referred to by witness Samuel Hawkins, and by Miles Byrne, was Father John Murphy of Boolavogue, a Parish a couple of miles from Ferns.

Father John Murphy

Born at Tincurry, between Enniscorthy and Ferns, Murphy was active during the rebellion in northern Wexford, leading his men on the second day at the battle of Oulart Hill, and later at the battle at Tubberneering, and was renowned as one of the most admired and beloved of the Wexford rebel leaders. Before the insurrection, he actively encouraged his parishioners to comply with orders to surrender their arms and take the oath of allegiance, however, after observing the cruel treatment meted out by the local militia on innocent parishioners, and the burning and destruction of his own parish chapel at Boolavogue and his home, he was finally forced to react, and was instrumental in organizing the initial conflicts in the insurrection in northern Wexford. His exploits during the rebellion became famous, and, following their defeat, he led a couple of thousand of his men out of County Wexford, through the Scullogue Gap in western Wexford, and continued the fight into Counties Carlow and Kilkenny. Facing defeat and capture, they escaped back into County Wexford and split up. Murphy was finally captured in Tullow in county Carlow, and brutally executed. Following their return to Wexford, many of the rebels returned to their homes or hid with family or friends.
Cloney related:
“When the body of the insurgents (with Fr Murphy) were passing through the Scollogh Gap (back into County Wexford), a vast number of them took to the chain of mountains called Mount Leinster and Black Stairs, between that and Newtownbarry, from which, after many of them had been killed, the remainder were dislodged. Others took shelter in the large woods of Killaughram, which are within three miles of Scollagh, and those who came from the northern part of the County resorted to the wood of Ferns where many of them were killed, and others worked their way to the Wicklow Mountains in quest of that division of the army from which they had separated at Wexford [30]  ie. Miles Byrne’s group rejoined the second group led north by rebel leaders Fitzgerald, Roche and Perry after escaping Wexford Town via Wexford Bridge.

Laurence may have been one of the Ferns unit that accompanied Fr. Murphy out of Wexford into County Carlow, and if he had been with this group, he may have been one of those who hid in Ferns woods, where he may have been captured by the military unit based at Ferns following the uprising. The previous day in County Carlow, the insurgents and their camp followers were retreating back to Scullogue Gap to pass back into County Wexford, being closely followed by Government troops. They camped that night on a hill just near the Gap and awoke surrounded by dense fog and could hear the troops closing on them. As Nicholas Furlong so eloquently expressed, in his book on Fr. John Murphy:
 “Dense fog covered the redcoat movement and masked their strength. For all the insurgents knew they could be out there in thousands. Fr. John gave his orders to Miles Byrne at once. He resolved that they should break camp immediately and march to attack whatever enemy forces were blocking the way through the Scullogh Gap. The insurgents collected their wounded and the women and began to withdraw towards the Blackstairs and the Gap. They receded, one by one, group by group, into the fog, as actors from a well-lit stage are swallowed up in the gloom of the exit wings. Boolavogue men, Ferns men, Ballaghkeen men, Faythe men, Monaseed men, all walked out of Fr. Murphy’s life. Soon there was not a sound about him.” [31]

Whether, Laurence was part of this dramatic scene, or whether he had stayed in County Wexford and had been hidden by friends can only be conjectured.

Father Murphy suffered an ignominious ending. He was finally captured in Tullow County Wicklow, stripped, cruelly flogged, hanged, beheaded and burnt in a barrel. His head was placed on a spike opposite the Catholic church and the people of the village were forced to open their windows and allow the ‘holy smoke’ from the burning barrel to billow through their homes.

There was ample evidence of United Irish activity in this area close to Ferns, in particular around Kilcormick, near Boolavogue and only a couple of miles SE of Ferns, which was described as “the worst part of the county” as regards the number of United Irishmen. So, if Laurence was not actually a member of the organization, he must at least have been aware of the activities and meetings of the United Irish groups in his vicinity, that were occurring in his area many months preceding the actual uprising.
Notably Fr. John Murphy was the Parish priest of Kilcormick.
During March 1798, the Wexford assizes were held.:
 “… the comments of the State Solicitor, writing from Wexford town, in March 1798 after the assizes at which the cases of a number of Kilcormick men had been heard: ‘though this county appears quiet yet I think it is in a bad state from the number of those United Irishmen which are in this county and I understand this town is the worst part of the county.” (Ref: S.P.O. Rebel Papers. 620/36/92. 28 March 1798) [32]

 “In Wexford, the Kilcormick men arrested in September (1797) had come before the assizes and were acquitted by the jury (due to false evidence given by a witness named Cooper). Loyalists concluded that the existing law was inadequate: resort would be necessary to the powers of the Insurrection Act and its provisions extended to the whole county. Their opponents made political capital out of the fact that at the assizes charges were thrown out or the accused acquitted. The proclamation of the entire county followed on 27 April. This provided the propaganda and fear factor which helped United Irishman recruitment.” [33]

Jane Adams Account of ‘Captain Butler’ during the 1798 Rebellion in Co. Wexford

Whatever his initial reluctance to become involved, one of Laurence Butler’s witnesses at his trial, John Wright stated that he had heard after the rebellion that Laurence was ‘rather active’ during the rebellion.  Many of his witnesses stated he was a rebel captain, and therefore he may have been the rebel described in the book “Protestant Women’s Narratives of the Irish Rebellion of 1798” which has the following personal account of Jane Adams relating her experiences of the Rebellion, during the months of May and June 1798:

 We got once more into the boat. When we reached the shore near enough to discern objects, we discovered hundreds of rebels, and, on a closer view, saw that they were all armed. I besought Hayes to turn back to the island; and here I must acknowledge it was my impious hope, that the boat might upset and end all our cares together. But I had soon reason to adore that Providence I had dared for a moment to distrust. The rebels called out to us to 1and: almost petrified with horror, I 1ooked at my poor father and children, expecting that the moment we landed we should be put to death. Hayes, with a countenance as full of horror as my own, endeavoured to quiet my fears: but what was my surprise, when, the moment I got out of the boat, a man came up and shook hands with me, desiring me not to be frightened; that he was Captain Butler [34], and would protect me as long as he could; that he would order a guard home with me. "I know you very well; I was coachman to Mrs. Percival, and you were very kind to me the last day she went to see you; it was a wet day and you ordered me a good draft of porter.”
 ‘He then turned round to select our guard from the hundreds that surrounded him’ [35].  They were all contending for rank, wielding their guns, blunderbusses, and swords, in the most frightful manner. I expected every moment the contents would be fatal to us, from accident if not design; they were all drunk. At length they fixed on the guard to attend us home; one calling himself captain; another saying he was head lieutenant; and in mock procession they marched us towards Summerseat; but, before we were half-way, I found myself unable to proceed, and begged to stop at my neighbour's, Mr. Woodcock's, whose family had at first accompanied us to the island, but had returned, depending on the assurance of liberty which had been given them. On our arrival at Mr. Woodcock's, we found the family in the greatest consternation and dismay: they had been up all night, at the mercy of several parties of the rebels, who came repeatedly, and examined every part of the house, possessing themselves of every thing they chose to take. The moments Mrs. Woodcock had to herself she employed in hiding flour, and any thing she could collect in the way of food, in the chimneys and roof of the house. Many of the rebels had threatened her, with a pistol at her breast, that if she had arms or Orangemen concealed, she should pay for it with her life. Whilst she was tremblingly recounting this to me, we saw a party, who had joined our guard, approaching towards the house with carts. Mr. Woodcock went out immediately to meet them: they obliged him again to open all his barns and offices, (Mr. W. was a respectable farmer, and a quaker,) out of which they filled their carts with flour, potatoes, &c. Not content with this, they insisted on coming into the house; and crowded up stairs, where Mrs. Woodcock and family, with my poor dear father and children, were waiting in terror their departure. On hearing them approach us, I actually pushed my father and children behind a bed, but by the time the rebels reached the room, I dragged. them out again, fearing, had they found them hiding, it would have made them more desperate. I stood before them when again my friend, Captain Butler, came up to me and said no harm should happen to me, and begged I would tell his mistress that, as long as he was Captain, he would protect the house; he believed she had got off to England, but he did not know what was become of his master, the high sheriff; however he was done with that now. The party examined every wardrobe, chest, and closet in the house; and one of them said, on going away, we have used you very well, but the next party is coming to burn all your houses. With what horror did we hear them! We looked at each other, without the power of utterance for many minutes. At length I said anything was better than to be burned to death, and that we must do the best we could at the island, at least for a short time, till the fury of the day was over. I helped Mrs. Woodcock to collect as much as we could take with us; and though our own house was within a few fields distance, I was afraid to venture for anything belonging to us. [36]

However, there are two facts in this account that appear to negate the involvement of Laurence Butler as the ‘Captain Butler’ referred to:
a). It would appear that this encounter occurred on or about Thursday 31st May. On this day, Fr. Murphy and the northern division left Wexford Town and marched back to Vinegar Hill. Laurence had only returned from his home to re-join the rebels, on Wednesday, and therefore had probably only joined the group left on Vinegar Hill, or he may have ridden south to join Murphy’s unit at Wexford Town, which returned north early the following day (Thursday).
Jane Adams referred to the estate of Summerseat, which was south of Wexford Town. It would have been unlikely that Laurence was patrolling south of Wexford Town at that time when his unit was marching north. However, it remains a possibility.

b) Captain Butler’s reference to being a “coachman” for the High Sheriff, Mr Percival, is also unlikely, given that Laurence was a skilled cabinet-maker, and could read and write. Also, given that Laurence was obviously living in a house in Ferns in northern Wexford and Percival was living in southern Wexford at least 20 miles from Ferns, it would seem unlikely that Laurence would have been a coachman for Percival, unless it was sometime before the rebellion. However, it is possible that Laurence’s cabinet making business suffered financial problems under the repressive penal laws, and he may have been forced to take a menial job to survive, albeit employment with a very well-to-do and influential personage such as Percival.
Edward Percival the High Sheriff lived at Grange near Killinick and Woodcock just south of Wexford Town. His wife, referred to, was Mary Woodcock daughter of Robert Woodcock Esq. of Killowen. Percival would build Barntown House, which was in the Parish of Carrigg a few miles NW of Wexford Town, shortly after the Rebellion and before his death in 1809. It was quite close to Tikillan and Newcastle across the Carrigg bridge. Significantly, this was the area in which a family of Butlers featuring the name Lawrence Butler, were recorded living in the 1831 Tithe Applotment Books, the 1853 Griffiths Valuation and the 1901 and 1911 Census records. Several of these Butlers were employed by the Liberal politician Charles A Walker of Belmont House and his two sons Charles S. Walker and Thomas Walker. In 1901, two Butlers named John and Lawrence were employed as coachmen for these two sons of Walker. A John Butler was living at Ballyharran in the 1834 Tithe Applotment Books, and may have been the John Butler who was buried at nearby Kilpatrick on 4 Feb 1834 aged 60 (ie. b. 1774).

There is a document in the collection of papers known as the “Rebellion Papers of 1798” held in the National Archives of Ireland, that is headed: Rebel Captains found entered in Company Dunman’s book as having been supplied with Provisions out of his stores (Ross Army and Corbett Hill). [37] There follows a long list of important participants in the Rebellion as well as a number of men from the Taghmon district including a Captain Butler of Taghmon. (Taghmon is a few miles west of Wexford Town.) The rebel army that assembled at Corbett Hill, a ridge above the town of New Ross, under their Commander-in-Chief, Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey, numbered upwards of 10,000 and was involved in a number of battles during the initial phases of the campaign, although their most important battle, the Battle of Ross, was a rout for the rebels, due to the lack of discipline from the rebels in the ranks. They made their camp on nearby Carrickbyrne Hill. Laurence could not have participated in this battle of New Ross which was fought by the southern rebel division on the 5th June, the day after Laurence was involved in the battle of Tubberneering fought by the northern rebel division in the north of the county, following which the rebels occupied Gorey.
The Captain Butler from Taghmon must have been a second rebel Butler. As this Captain Butler was involved in the Battle of New Ross, during which thousands were killed, he may not have survived this battle, which would explain why he was not arrested and subjected to transportation, unless he somehow managed to make an escape following the uprising. He may have been related to Thomas Cloney’s Butler relatives who came from the Ross area, and the ‘Mr Butler’ who welcomed Cloney back to Ireland referred to above. Cloney also related how he slept one night at Mrs Butler’s house on his retreat from the Battle of Ross towards Wexford Town. He may have been the Michael Butler captured in Dublin as previously recounted in the newspaper article.

© B. A. Butler

Contact email address:  butler1802   @hotmail.com  (NB. no spaces)

Link back to Introduction:

Links to all the chapters in this blog:

The 1798 rebellion
Laurence Butler's trial for his role in the Rebellion
Analysis of Butler's trial
Laurence Butler at the Battle of Tubberneering
Laurence Butler's imprisonment
Butler's life and family in Wexford
Laurence Butler's transportation to Sydney in 1802 on the Atlas 2
Conditions on Convict Ships
Life as a convict in Sydney
Laurence Butler's property investments in Pitt Street Sydney
Sydney Town in 1800-1810
Laurence Butler's petitions to the Governor
Laurence Butler's 100 acre land grant in District of Petersham
Butler's membership of the Commercial Society of Sydney
Laurence Butler's court cases
Laurence Butler's business interests in Sydney
Laurence Butler's cabinet making business
Laurence Butler's property investments in Sydney
Laurence Butler's colonial family
Laurence Butler's death in 1820
Laurence Butler's issue- Walter, Lawrence Junior and Mary Ann
The Catholic Community of Sydney up until 1820
Genealogy- Butler's possible ancestry and possible descendants in Ireland, and BDM records
Butler's fellow Irish rebels transported to Sydney
Conclusion about the life of Laurence Butler

[1]  T J Kiernan, Transportation from Ireland to Sydney: 1791-1816,  Canberra, 1954,  p12; Kiernan’s references: 'Reports of the Secret Committees of the Irish House of Lords of 1793 and 1797, 28-29.'  & 'Report from the Committee of Secrecy of the House of Commons in Ireland 21 Aug 1798 App.I, 27; App. III, 66; App VII, 92; App VIII. 94’.
[2] D Keogh & N Furlong (eds), The Mighty Wave- the 1798 Rebellion in Wexford, (Ch: Reinterpreting the 1798 Rebellion in Co Wexford’ by Kevin Whelan), Four Courts Press, Dublin, 1996, p.31
[3] Daniel Gahan, The People’s Rising Wexford 1798, Gill and Macmillan, Dublin,1995, p.45
[4] Sir Richard Musgrave,  Memoirs of the Irish Rebellion in 1798, 3rd  Edition , Dublin 1802  pp.370, 898
[5] Dublin Penny Journal, vol. I., p.128, Waterford & South East Ireland Archaelogical Society Journa, Vol. 4, pub 1898 Notes & Queries p.194.
[6] A book written about Fr John Murphy by Nicholas Furlong titled “Father John Murphy of Boolavogue 1753-1798”,Geography Publications, Dublin, 1991, is recommended reading for an insight into Laurence’s activities during the uprising and the men he was associated with.
[7] Sir Richard Musgrave, op.cit, Appendix XXV, p.903
[8]  Miles Byrne, Memoirs of Miles Byrne, edited by his widow; 1st Edition Paris 1863- Irish University Press 1972, p.92
[9] D. Keogh & N. Furlong (eds), The Mighty Wave- the 1798 rebellion in Wexford, op.cit.,  Ch: The Key to the Planned Insurrection’ by Thomas Graham, p.67
[10] Miles Byrne, Memoirs of Miles Byrne” edited by his widow; 1st Edition Paris 1863- Irish University Press 1972, p.92
[11] Ibid, p.104
[12] Ibid, p311
[13] Thomas Cloney, Personal Narrative of Those Transactions in the County of Wexford, in which the Author was engaged during the awful period of 1798, Dublin, 1832, p.243
[14] Miles Byrne, op.cit, p190
[15]  Sir Richard Musgrave, op.cit, p309
[16]  Ibid, Appendix No. XX, 24, p802-810
[17]  Sir Richard Musgrave, op.cit,  Appendix, No.XIX.10; p755/6
[18] Sir Richard Musgrave, op.cit, pp.307-08
[19] Ibid, p.329
[20]  Lloyd’s Evening Post, Wed August 15, 1798, Issue 6392; British Library, Gale Group.
[21] Sir Richard Musgrave, Memoirs., op.cit. Appendix XXI, No 4; List of persons executed in the town of Wexford for crimes of rebellion, murder etc. from June 21, 1798 to 18th Dec 1800; and, Vol II, Appendix No XIX, 10, p.377- Protestant inhabitants of Parish of Ferns murdered in the rebellion
[22] Sir Richard Musgrave, Memoirs.., op.cit, Vol II, Appendix No XIX, 10, p.377.
[23] Sir Richard Musgrave, op.cit, pp480-484, 696, 755
[24] Ibid, Appendix No. XXI, 4, p820
[25] Thomas Cloney, op.cit, p237
[26]  Ibid, p76
[27] Miles Byrne, op.cit, p65
[28]  Ibid, p348
[29] Ibid, p187
[30]  Thomas Cloney, Personal Narrative of Those Transactions in the County of Wexford, in which the Author was engaged during the awful period of 1798, Dublin, 1832, p.87
[31] Nicholas Furlong, Father John Murphy of Boolavogue 1753-1798, Geography Publications, Dublin, 1991. p.155
[32] Kevin Whelan (ed), Wexford History and Society,(Ch 10: The 1798 rebellion in Wexford: United Irishman organisation, membership, leadership by L. M. Cullen) Geography Publications, Dublin, 1987, p.271
[33] Ibid, p.286/7
[34] John Beatty, the editor of the book, made a note here- “Possibly Lawrence Butler, a rebel Captain in Co. Wexford (see Whelan, “The Religious Factor in the 1798 Rebellion in Co. Wexford”, p72- in O’Flannaghan, Ferguson, and Whelan, Eds, “Rural Ireland 1600-1900: Modernisation and Change, pp62-85)
[35]  This phrase was added, taken from another recount of Jane Adams account from “Researches in the South of Ireland” by T. Crofton Croker pub 1824 by John Murray, Albermarle St London.
[36]  John D. Beatty (ed), Protestant Women’s Narratives of the Irish Rebellion of 1798”, Four Courts Press, 2001,  p.162-3,
[37]  The Taghmon Historical Society website: http://homepage.eircom.net/~taghmon/histsoc/vol2/