THE BETRAYAL OF MONRO
"With sinking mind and bosom riven
And heart with lonely anguish aching,
It needs my long-taught hope in heaven
To keep that weary heart from breaking!". - GRIFFIN.
IMMEDIATELY AFTER the Battle of Ballynahinch the followers of Monro were
scattered like sheep, and fled in all directions. The unfortunate general,
though sadly broken down by fatigue, and dispirited by defeat, was the last
to leave the field; nor did he finally abandon the scene until, as he had
hoped, the remnant of his people had got into some place of comparative
For several hours Monro roamed about the country, and though well known by
many of the farmers, the large rewards offered for his apprehension failed
to induce any of them to betray him. One of the Loyalists concealed him for
nearly two days, and bestowed on him all possible kindness. But as the
harbouring of any suspected person was at that time an offence of great
magnitude, the hospitable entertainer of Monro dare not run the risk of
allowing him to stop at his place for any lengthened time, especially as
patrols of cavalry were marching through the country on the look-out for
straggling men of the routed army. On the morning of the 15th June, Monro
was obliged to leave his shelter, and, at the break of day, he started in
search of another hiding-place.
The adverse fate which pursued Monro led him to a farmstead occupied by a
man named Billy Holmes, and situated in Clintinagoold, on the borders of
Dromara, and two and a half miles from Ballynahinch. Five pounds in cash and
a small parcel of clothes was all the property then in the possession of
General Monro, and this he handed to Holmes as a reward for his concealment
until the opinion of Government should be known. The fellow willingly
accepted the gift, and expressed the utmost sympathy for the fugitive.
Having made sure of the cash and the clothes, Holmes gave Monro some
refreshment, and then led him to what he assured him would be a safe place
of concealment. This was a crew and in it Holmes covered Monro with bundles
of straw, assured him of his safety, and left him to his exhausted slumbers.
Holmes and his wife were cruel hosts, damnably did they betray their
wearied guest. They did not for a single moment propose keeping faith with
Monro, and no sooner was the general in his place of hiding than they set
about thinking how to make the most of his secret. With this view Holmes'
wife started off for Hillsborough, the nearest seat of military authority.
Here she met four members of the local corps of Yeomanry, known as the Black
Troop, as they wore no uniform save a band of white linen round the left
arm. To these men she reported what had occurred. They immediately armed
themselves with muskets and bayonets, and, guided by Holmes' wife, proceeded
to the hiding-place of Monro. As soon as they arrived there they captured
their prey and tied his hands behind his back. Monro, finding himself
betrayed, bitterly reproached his betrayers, and then sought to soften his
captors by stating that if they allowed him to go free his friends would pay
them a large sum.
The Yeomen, however, were not to be tempted. Hoping for a higher reward
than Monro could give, they refused to make terms with him, and in great
triumph they marched their prisoner into Dromore, where he was lodged in the
house of Brush the agent, now the Rectory.
What reward the fellows received is not known, but their miserable fate
is no secret. Every one of the four possessed, at the time of the arrest,
some property, yet they afterwards became miserably poor, and the longest
lived of the four died a pauper.
A worse fate was reserved for Holmes. Stung by an accusing conscience, he
dragged out a miserable existence. From the day on which he violated his
faith to the last hour of his life he was despised for his deceit, and
denounced for his treachery, and he was held in scorn and contempt by people
of every class and creed in his neighbourhood, shunned in private life, and
avoided in the Market Place. When he felt the hour of death approaching he
sent for the Presbyterian clergyman who ministered to the congregation of
which he was an unworthy member. He did so, it is believed, in order that he
might make full confession of his base deed. When the clergyman arrived,
Holmes requested his family and friends to leave the room, as he had
something important to tell his minister. They refused to do so, and the
creature died, a wretched outcast, and with the stain of the foul deed upon
his soul. His descendants to the present day, although not bearing his name,
have the slur cast in their teeth. His grave and that of his wife's are
unmarked, yet dishonoured in Dromara churchyard.
THE EXECUTION OF MONRO
"Far dearer the grave or the prison,
Illum'd by one patriot name,
Than the trophies of all who have risen .
On Liberty's ruins to famly" - MOORE.
THE MILITARY authorities of Hillsborough ordered out a guard, and under
this, Monro, handcuffed, was marched from from Dromore to Lisburn, where he
was confined for the night in a temporary prison in Castle Street.
When his friends learned of his arrest, the utmost sympathy was shewn for
him. His clothes were torn, and his health had suffered much from the
fatigue he had undergone. George Whitla, a Lisburn cotton manufacturer, sent
him a full suit of clothes, while his clergyman, the rector of the parish,
Rev. Dr. Cupples, who resided within a few doors of the guard-house, had his
meals carried to him from the rectory during the period of his confinement.
On Monday, the 17th June, the trial came on before a court martial,
composed of officers belonging to the several regiments then lying in
Lisburn Barracks and at Blaris Camp. Amongst those officers, General Goldie,
who was an Orangeman, and his aide-de-camp, McCoy, were characterised as men
of great austerity. In one case it is said that when a rebel soldier was
about to suffer McCoy pushed him up the ladder. The tribunal before which
Monro was tried sat in a large room situate near the guard-house; and it is
only fair to state that if mercy rarely found a resting-place in that august
assembly, justice was rigidly enforced. Short was the period of the court's
deliberations; it required little proof to convict, and it was still easier
to condemn. Only three witnesses were examined for the Crown, and the
deposition that the prisoner had led the native troops at the recent
battles, being conclusive, the sentence of death was at once written out,
and Harry Monro was ordered for execution.
Monro was immediately informed that he had not long to live, and to make
speedy preparation for the death that awaited him. On his way from the
judgment-hall to the place of punishment he requested to be taken to the
rectory, that he might receive the sacrament. That rite of the Church having
been administered to him, he was led down the street to the Market Square,
where a temporary gallows had been erected in front of Ward's stationery
warehouse, and nearly opposite his own dwelling house. He was dressed in a
black coat, nankeen knee-breeches, and white stockings. A guard of the rd
Light Dragoons under Colonel Wollarston, and two companies of the local
Yeomanry, were drawn up before the place of on. During all the preliminary
arrangements the condemned patriot exhibited perfect calmness and
resignation. One request alone he made, and this was while the executioner
adjusted the fatal noose - to beg the commanding officer's permission to see
a friend who resided in the immediate vicinity of the spot where he stood.
That request was granted, and when the man appeared he addressed a few words
to him in a low tone just before he ascended the ladder leading to the
gallows. What he said on the occasion was never known by the relations of
the friend into whose ear it was spoken. The moment preparations had been
made, Monro stepped from the street up the ladder, but the slight rung on
which he alighted having given way, he fell down against some of the guards
by whom he was surrounded. Recovering his balance in a moment, although
having his arms firmly pinioned. he said, "All right," and refusing
assistance, again mounted the ladder. When he had reached the required
height, the executioner, whose face was closely veiled by a piece of black
crape, also ascended to the spot, and placed the rope round the prisoner's
neck with an awkwardness of manner that proved him to be a mere amateur in
the art of legal strangulation. Without waiting for the final act of the
finisher of the law, the doomed one suddenly leaped forward, and as the body
fell and swung to and fro, a low wail of sorrow, which the military
authorities vainly endeavoured to repress, told how bitterly the tragic end
of their fellow-townsman was felt by the multitude that thronged the place
of execution. Many of his acquaintances - many linen merchants, who in
happier days had stood side by side with Harry Monro in the Linen Hall,
engaged in the usual pursuits of their business - were around him in his
last moments. And, though several of these looked upon his conduct as that
of misguided patriotism, his political opponents, as well as personal
friends, mourned heartily over the sad fate of the man whom every one
respected as a worthy and amiable citizen. When the body was taken down, the
final vengeance of the law had not been fully satisfied - the authorities,
who irresponsibly wielded the powers of life and death, having ordered that
decapitation should take place after the execution of the first part of the
sentence. On that savage act having been perpetrated, a dragoon seized the
head and flung it into the air, shouting, "There goes the head of a
traitor." In this act of wanton ferocity the operator seemed to think that,
in thus outraging the remains of an unfortunate fellow-creature, he
performed an achievement worthy the glory of a British soldier. Monro's
head, with the white night-cap still on it, was afterwards stuck on a pike,
and placed on the front of the Market-house - the military authorities
carrying out a custom barbarous as any ever practised by the most savage
tribes of the New Zealanders. Some weeks afterwards a Scotch nobleman,
passing through the town, and feeling shocked at the disgraceful spectacle,
had the head taken down and interred in the Lisburn churchyard, in the same
grave that contained the other portion of the mutilated body.
After the death of Harry Monro many of the disaffected party were made
prisoners, and lodged in the Lisburn Guard-house. Two of these people were
tried and convicted, the sentence of death following close on the verdict of
guilty. One of the condemned was Richard Vincent, copper and tin smith, a
native of Lisburn, and the other was named Maxwell. These men were executed
almost immediately after receiving sentence, and their heads, after being
cut off, were placed on the Market-house beside Monro's. Not many days after
his execution, a sister of the general (one who had been celebrated as a
heroine in the national struggle) was passing through the town, and when
opposite the Market-house she gazed for a moment at her brother's head, and
exclaimed aloud, "Ah, Harry, you will be avenged for all yet!"
A soldier's hands held the axe by which Monro's head was struck off. With
the blood still reeking on its blade, the soldier rushed into a marine store
kept in Lisburn by a Mrs. Griffin, and, throwing down the on, demanded for
it the price of a naggin of whiskey. The woman regarded the bloody
instrument with feelings of horror, but knowing how dangerous it was in
those days to refuse compliance to the demands of a soldier, she gave
threepence to the man, who left with her the hatchet and departed.
On the same day a Glassdrummond farmer, named Thomas Murray, was in
Lisburn selling peats. He called on Mrs. Griffin, and the poor woman begged
him to take away the hatchet, as neither luck nor grace could follow the
house that gave it shelter. Murray gave her a bag of turf in exchange for
the axe, and sold the latter for seven and sixpence to Hugh Duncan, a
carpenter in Glassdrummond. His son, James Duncan, had the axe long in his
possession, showing it to the writer of this story. It is now in the
possession of the Richardsons, of Lissue.
HE FATE OF BETSY GRAY
"Shame on the cruel, ruthless band
Who haunted down to death their prey!
And palsy strike the murderous hand
That slew the lovely Betsy Gray."-OLD BALLAD
IT IS TIME to return to our heroine.
When the last hope of the Insurgents had vanished Betsy Gray, her
brother, and lover fled along the Lisburn Road. It was decided that she
should dismount from her horse and flee on foot, as there would thus be a
better chance of eluding observation. The three had reached a place called
Ballycreen, Betsy leading by a couple of hundred yards. She had gained a
piece of high, rocky land where she would be safe from the approach of
cavalry, and here she awaited the arrival of Willie Boal and her brother
But the murderers were upon the track!
A party of Hillsborough heroes had been in hot pursuit of the three, and
gained rapidly upon them. Before George Gray and young Boal could reach
Betsy's hiding place they heard the Yeomen in their rear shouting to them to
surrender. The poor fellows were weary with running, and their strength was
well nigh spent. The shouts came nearer. Suddenly Boal stopped.
"George," he said, "let us surrender. By so doing we may save Betsy's
life and our own too. If we continue to fly we may betray her hiding-place,
and she may be destroyed."
"Come on," urged George, seizing Boal by the arm; "they would never lay
violent hands upon a woman."
"Ay, that they would!" exclaimed Boal, "and here I stay."
As he spoke he turned round and faced the pursuers. "Be it so," said
George; "we will stand or fall together."
In a few moments the Yeomen, flushed and breathless, were face to face
with the two unarmed men. Without a single word they fell upon them with the
swords. George, for a moment or two evaded the thrusts of the Yeoman's
weapons, but Boal, less fortunate, received a stab in his neck. He uttered a
wild cry, and dashing forward seized his foe by the throat.
That cry reached the ear of Betsy Gray, and she recognised the voice.
Springing from her concealment she bounded over an intervening hedge, and
the next instant was with her friends. She found her lover dying upon the
ground, and her brother struggling with a fellow by whom he had been
wounded. One of the Yeomen
was just about to plunge his sword into George's body from behind. Betsy
grasped the weapon in her naked hands, and madly strove to wrench it from
the fellow's grasp.
"Mercy!" she cried; "if you are men, spare my brother's life." Her appeal
was in vain!
At the sound of her voice George turned round and begged of her to fly.
"Never!" exclaimed Betsy. "Oh, for my trusty blade now, that I might
avenge the murder of my poor Willie!"
Even as she spoke she was set upon by three of the ruffianly band. One of
them struck her upon the wrist with his sword cutting her hand completely
off; another put his pistol close to her eyes and sent a bullet crashing
through her brain. At the same instant her brother was shot, and the three
brave, but unfortunate companions lay bleeding upon the green sod.
Even then the butchers were not satisfied. While some of them hacked and
hewed the quivering bodies of George Gray and Willie Boal, others of them
desecrated the corpse of Betsy. They stripped her of nearly all her
clothing, and one brute tore her ear-rings from her ears and the rings from
off her fingers.
A more brutal deed has never been recorded. An officer, who came up
shortly after the dastardly Yeomen had decamped in search of fresh victims,
gazed long and earnestly at the dead body of Betsy Gray.
"A fairer face I have never looked upon," exclaimed the soldier, "and, by
Heavens, the fellow who slew her is a murderer of the blackest dye!"
The names of some of the participators in the foul deed are well known,
they were from Anahilt. To the day of their death they were abhorred and
avoided as a pestilence, alike by Orange and Green, Protestant and Catholic,
saint and sinner. Their descendants suffer for the deeds of their ancestors,
as till the present day they share the odium which justly attached to the
cowardly and bloodthirsty scoundrels, who slew a lovely and defenceless
woman and two helpless and unarmed men.
The story nas been recorded by the historian, and sung by the poet; a
ballad, of which the following is a copy, is still familiar in thousands of
A BALLAD OF NINETY-EIGHT
Oh, many a noble lad and lass
Who joined the fight of ninety-eight,
To right the cruel wrongs of years,
Did meet with sad and bloody. fate.
On Ednavady's sloping heights,
In June, upon the thirteenth, day;
In thousands stood the Patriots bold,
To fight for home and victory.
But bravest of them all, I weep,
Who mustered there upon that day,
And drew the sword for fatherland,
Was lovely, winsome Betsy Gray.
From Granshaw, near to Bangor town,
With Willie Boal that day she came;
Her brother, too, was by her side.
Inspired by patriotic flame.
And when the tide of battle raged,
And showers of bullets fell around,
Still in the thickest of the fight,
Was noble-hearted Betsy found.
When adverse fate with victory crowned
The loyal host upon that day,
Poor George and Willie joined the flight,
And with them lovely Betsy Gray.
Along the Lisburn Road they fled,
Pursuing Yeomen keeping watch;
Then Betsy drew her gleaming sword
And hid it in a farmhouse thatch.
She reached the vale of Ballycreen -
Her friends some distance were behind -
And quickly did she look around
A quiet hiding-place to find.
But, ere 'twas found, she heard a cry
Alas! too well she knew the sound;
Her brother and her sweetheart true
Had by the Yeomen been found!
Then from the grassy vale she sprang
This beauteous, noble, fearless maid -
And back she ran with bounding step,
That she might seek to give her aid.
Ah, what a sight then met her gaze!
Her Willie weltering in his gore;
And George, her brother, by his side,
Pleading for life in accents sore.
A Yeoman raised his sword to strike,
As Betsy to the rescue ran
"Oh, spare my brother's life!" she cried,
"Oh, spare him, if you be a man!"
She raised her white and rounded arm
As if to ward the dreaded stroke;
Vain was her prayer - the weapon fell
And smote her hand off as she spoke.
Another of the murderous crew,
A man who came from Anahilt,
Laughed at the brutal deed and cried-
"More rebel blood must yet be spilt!"
He drew a pistol from his belt,
And shot poor Betsy in the eye;
She sank upon the heathery mound,
And died without a sob or sigh.
That night the murdered three were found,
By Matthew Armstrong - then a lad;
Who quickly running to his home,
Related there his tidings sad.
No tombstone marks that humble grave,
No tree nor shrub is planted there;
And never spade disturbs the spot,
Where sleeps the brave, where rests the fair.
Shame on the cruel, ruthless band,
Who hunted down to death their prey!
And palsy strike the murderous hand,
That slew the lovely Betsy Gray!
"No tombstone marks that humble grave,
No tree nor shrub is planted there;
And never spade disturbs that spot
Where sleeps the brave, where rest the fair."
IN the farm of Samuel Armstrong, of Ballycreen, within two miles of
Ballynahinch, lies a picturesque and beautiful little dell, surrounded by
rocks and furze, and hidden from the eye of the traveller upon the adjacent
Not far from this secluded spot was enacted the tragedy described in the
foregoing chapter. On the morning of the murder, a lad named Matthew
Armstrong (uncle of Samuel Armstrong) came upon the dead and mutilated
bodies of Betsy Gray, her brother, and lover. He informed two farmers, named
respectively Anthony Orr and William Graham, of his discovery, and
accompanied them to the spot. The sight was a harrowing one. The three
bodies lay quite close together, gory and disfigured. Tenderly lifting Betsy
in their arms, they bore her to the little vale upon Armstrong's farm, and,
having procured spades, dug for her a grave in the turf-covered soil. Here
she was laid, lovingly and gently; her blood-stained locks smoothed down,
and her disordered clothing - or such of it as had not been torn away by her
ruthless slayers - adjusted. In the same grave were laid her brother and her
lover, and then, with tear-dimmed eyes, the kindly farmers shovelled in the
earth, piled up the green sods, and departed homeward, leaving those
faithful Hearts of Down sleeping the sleep that knows no waking, till that
last morn when earth and sea shall yield up their dead.
Over a century has passed since the bright June sun looked down upon the
fresh sods that covered these noble hearts. Expectant friends would await
their return in vain; the old home in Granshaw would see them no more for
ever. Neither spade nor plough has ever disturbed that hallowed spot. The
people of the district regard it with the deepest reverence, and often as
they visit the place, they sit upon the emerald sod and recall the story
which has been handed down from father to son. A log of black oak thrown
across the head of the grave alone marks the spot, and this is so grown over
by the grass as to be scarcely noticeable.
The sword which Betsy carried is still in existence. In the course of her
flight the poor girl plunged the weapon up to the hilt in the thatch of a
farm cottage, doubtless expecting that some day she would return to claim
it. The weapon was soon afterwards discovered by the farmer who occupied the
cottage, and he carefully hid it away as a precious relic of the struggle of
'98. In the year 1839 two packmen, named John Andrews and Alick Alexander,
in the course of their peregrinations, called at the same cottage, and
spread before the farmer's wife their tempting wares. The woman fancied a
shawl, but she had not the money to pay for it. The men, anxious to do
businiess suggested barter, but for a time the woman could not think of
anything which she could offer in exchange. At length she thought of the
sword of Betsy Gray. Producing the weapon from its hiding-place, she related
the story connected with it, and offered it in payment of the coveted shawl.
The bargain was at once closed. It was not without some misgivings that the
woman parted with the sword, for she dreaded the anger of her husband, and
insisted upon one of the packmen concealing the much-prized trophy in his
umbrella lest it should be seen by the farmer, who was at work in an
The men left, satisfied with their day's work; and, making their way to
Ballynahinch, they secured lodgings and ordered supper. While the meal was
being cooked they examined the sword and chuckled as they thought of the
price they could obtain for it from their employer, one Lindsay, of
Kilmarnock, inn Scotland; a man who was the possessor of quite a museum.
Their dialogue was interrupted by the hasty entrance of a man, who turned
out to be the owner of the sword, and who, having discovered his wife's act,
had started out in pursuit of the packmen. He fiercely flung down the shawl
at their feet and demanded the return of his valued trophy. The men refused,
and an angry altercation followed. A few glasses of whiskey, a hearty
supper, and a pair of new boots bestowed upon the farmer, softened his
heart, and he confirmed the sale of the sword, which soon afterwards found
its way into the hands of Lindsay. That gentleman's son, Sergeant David
Lindsay, of Mount Royal, Portrush, is at present the possessor of this
interesting relic of '98, and it is shown by him to many who are curious to
see and touch the blade which was so bravely wielded on that memorable 13th
of June, 1798, by the beautiful and brave-hearted heroine of the Battle of
Ballynahinch, whose ashes repose 'neath the verdant turf of the vale of
THE EXECUTION OF WARWICK
"Out of the tyrant's power!
Free from the scourge of the rod!
Gone to a holier region;
Safe with the martyr's God." - LYTTLE.
THE NAME of Warwick will be remembered in Down as long as that of Orr
will be recollected in Antrim. For fully six months
he had been a prisoner at large. Bitterly did he lament the cruel fate which
had befallen his faithful friend Betsy and her companions. Of himself he
thought not, little dreaming of the storm which was soon to burst on his
unfortunate head. He fully expected, as did all his friends, that he would
be pardoned, so trifling was the offence which had been laid to his charge.
It ways to be otherwise, and his persecutors were to have the satisfaction
of spilling his innocent blood upon the scaffold.
Brief was the notice given him that the awful sentence was to be carried
out, short was the time allowed him to prepare for the terrible ordeal, and
to bid farewell to his many friends, to tear himself away from his
grey-haired mother and his darling sweetheart.
Monday, the 15th of October, 1798, was the day fixed for Warwick's
execution. The morning was dark and lowering, the sun hid its face, and
nature seemed shrouded in mourning for the scene about to be enacted.
A troop of horse and a battalion of infantry were mustered in front of
the provost in which Warwick was imprisoned. Many friends were seen
clustered in small parties about the Square in Newtownards, and a carriage
in which the devoted victim of the times was to be conveyed to the place of
execution stood opposite the windows of the room. His friends were admitted
singly to pay their final visit and say a last farewell. Warwick was greatly
agitated; his accustomed serenity and self-command had forsaken him
entirely. In the centre of the room stood a table on which were scattered a
few books. Beside them was a neatly tied up and labelled parcel; it
contained a number of confidential and domestic papers; the signature of the
president of the court-martial was written outside. The packet also
contained several letters, which were seized on the arrest of Warwick, and
which were from his loved Mary. Poor Mary! She lay in a. violent convulsive
fit in the arms of her aged father, who had borne her to a dark corner of
the prisoner's apartment. They had spent the greater part of the night
together in reading and in consoling each other under the dreadful
visitation that was about to alight on both.
Warwick had just been pressing her to his bursting heart; he had received
from her an assurance of her everlasting fidelity, which was ratified by an
embrace of love and honour; in an agony of despair she had swooned away, and
taking advantage of the temporary absence of the powers of perception, he
laid her gently in her father's arms, and with a manly resolve prepared to
quit the room and to meet death with the indignation of an injured patriot
yet with the firmness and resignation of a true Christian.
Warwick paused for a moment as he was about to depart, and cast his eyes
again towards the angel of his earthly existence, as she lay insensible to
all that was to happen, her pale and beautiful face marked with the lines of
deep sorrow. As he did so he calmly said -
"I do not complain; God's will must be done; but the vengeance of man is
surely more terrible than even the visitations of the Almighty. Our Heavenly
Father is of long suffering and slow to anger; but man is sudden and furious
in his revenge. To die is appalling, even under any circumstances, but to be
separated from her with whom I had hoped to enjoy many years of love and
happiness; to be dragged down to the grave thus early in life, and to leave
her behind who is to me all that belongs to life itself. O, God! support me
in this terrible hour of my dark despair."
In a fit of wildness and fearful agitation he clasped his aching
forehead, his frenzied eyes speaking volumes of inward torture, and rushing
out, flung himself into the carriage which was prepared for whilst the
closing in of the soldiery, the prancing of the troopers, the slow and
solemn tread of the guards, and the marching orders of the officers drowned
from the ears and shut out from the eyes of Warwick's friends what his
tortures must have been, and the cavalcade departed for the place of
The echo of the departed procession was no longer heard in the lonely
street when the unfortunate Mary gave signs of returning animation. Her
father bore her to the open window, that the cooling breezes of the morning
might assist returning nature. But with the return of life there was no
return of reason. The eyes were glazed, her features rigid, and she looked
on those around her as though nothing but empty space was there. Then it was
that the soul of the father was in terrible tribulation. He did not weep,
but he groaned heavily in mental agony.
When the procession reached Mountstewart a scene was enacted sufficient
"to make even angels weep." The Marquis of Londonderry, who presided at
Warwick's trial, and who a short time before had hanged the Rev. James
Porter, the Presbyterian Minister of Greyabbey, in front of his own Manse,
was just about to mount his horse to see that the sentence of the court was
fulfilled to the letter, when his invalid daughter, a wasted and lovely
girl, wrapped up in a portion of her bedclothes, rushed from the splendid
hall, and flinging herself on her knees on the green sward, begged the life
of the devoted victim. The judge was inexorable! The law must be obeyed, and
the next funeral wail, after poor Warwick's that rose on the shores of Loch
Cuan, was heard over the departed daughter of the cruel father of Lord
Castlereagh, who ended his life with his own hand.
The apparatus of death was erected close by Kirkcubbin meeting-house.
Three files of soldiery, flanked by the troopers, surrounded Warwick and his
friends. Some members of the Presbytery were with him, and in particular the
hoary and venerable minister of Kirkcubbin stood by his young friend
addressing himself in frequent prayer to the throne of righteousness and
The morning all along had been exceedingly stormy and wet. A gigantic
mass of heavy thunder-clouds gathered immediately over the heads of the
party. The Rev. Brydon had just finished his touching appeal to God, when a
frightful peal of thunder burst right above the crowd, and all around seemed
one great sheet of fire. The stern, troopers looked on each other with
amazement, and all save the chief and the devoted Warwick trembled like the
quivering leaves of the surrounding wood. How different were the feelings
which produced that self-command in these two men! In Warwick the power of
religion and a heart of purity and innocence, bore him up even in the bitter
hour of death. In Londonderry all his brutal nature was summoned up to
stifle conscience. The storm continued unabated. The rain fell down in
torrents; the lightning blazed more frightfully; the thunder shook the
firmament as if a revolution were at hand; and in the midst of these
convulsions of nature Warwick was sacrificed to appease unnatural vengeance.
Just as he was in his last convulsive struggle, a small cloud that had
detached itself from the heavy masses above descended as though it would
alight on the head of the dying man. It opened, and, to the amazement of
every one present, a white dove was seen, with downward wing hovering
immediately over the gallows tree. In another moment the cloud closed on the
airy messenger and all was over with poor Warwick. Londonderry waved his
sword, the ranks opened, and spurring his horse he rode off at a gallop to
Mountstewart, looking dismayed and disheartened.
Wonder sat on every brow. The body was cut down, and as it was lowered to
the earth the Rev. Brydon fearlessly exclaimed:
"Out of the power of tyranny!"
The remains of Warwick rest in Movilla graveyard, Newtownards. His
broken-hearted mother decked his grave with flowers, and every day during
the remainder of her life she visited the mournful spot. An eye-witness has
thus described the scene often witnessed by him unobserved and at a
respectful distance: "The frail old woman, with wrinkled features and white
hair, kneeling upon the grave, her hands clasped, her weeping eyes turned up
to Heaven, and her quivering lips moving in silent prayer."
And (these things happened in the County Down a little over one hundred
I HAVE but little more to tell my readers regarding the struggle of '98
in County Down. Volumes could be filled in recounting deeds of blood; the
publication of these, however, might but perpetuate ill-feeling and freshen
the recollections of much. that had better be forgotten.
Let me add a few words regarding the fate of some who have figured in my
story. The Rev. Steele Dickson spent years in banishment. His sufferings
were terrible, but he lived to record them, and to be restored to the bosom
of his family. He died in poverty and lies buried in a pauper's grave in
Clifton Street, Belfast. His tomb, however, has recently been marked by a
suitable monument. Jamey Dillon, the scoundrel who betrayed Warwick, found
it impossible to live at Drumawhey in consequence of the odium in which he
was held. He removed to the town of Donaghadee, and there built is house,
the cost of which was defrayed by Warwick's blood-money. To the present day
the street in which he built the house is known as "Warwick Street". Here,
too, he found life insupportable. Leaving that place, he went to the
townland of Ballyhay, which is about a mile from Donaghadee and lodged with
a relative there. When he appeared in public he was shunned by the old and
hooted by the young. For a long time previous to his death he sat by the
fireside, refusing to go to bed, so horrible were his dreams of the night.
Dillon is dead, but his evil deeds will never be forgotten.
Ill fortune seemed to follow all who acted a base part in those troublous
times, from Dillon, the publican, to Lord Castlereagh, who died by his own
hand, in popular ignominy.
The Rev. Robert Black, a Presbyterian clergyman of Down, afterwards of
Derry, was base enough to act as a Government spy and receive emoluments for
the information he supplied. So degraded did he afterwards become in the
estimation of his brother clerics and the public that his mind appeared
affected. He ultimately committed suicide by leaping from Derry Bridge into
the River Foyle.
Good old widow Warwick, having mourned for years the murder of her son,
passed away from earth. Their ashes mingle in the same grave; their spirits
are united in the Better Land.
Merry-hearted Mat McClenaghan lived to a good old age. Some of his
descendants still reside in the Ards, and once of them pursuing the calling
of his predecessor. May he never find it necessary to imitate Mat's example
in forging pikes!
The participators in the scenes of '98 have passed away. History should
deal fearlessly with them; the present generation should speak reverently of
them. Through all time, fathers and mothers shall tell to their offsprings
the mournful story of
AND THE BRAVE HEARTS OF DOWN.
THE BATTLE OF BALLYNAHINCH
Oh were you at the Battle of Ballynahinch,
Where the Sons of Old Ireland arose in defence,
When Munro and his brave men they all took the field,
And they fought for four hours and never did yield.
Munro being weary and in the need of a sleep,
Gave a woman ten guineas his secret to keep.
When she got the money the Devil tempted her so
That she sent for the army which surrounded Munro.
The army it came and surrounded Munro
And they marched him to Lisburn to jail he did go,
And his mother and sister who were passing that way
Heard the very last words that their dear boy did say.
Munro he was taken and placed in a hall,
It's for his dear life those tyrants did call;
They there did condemn him and led him away,
And stuck his head on a spear that very same day.
Oh I'll die for Old Ireland as I lived for her cause
I don't fear their soldiers, and I don't heed their laws,
And let every true son who loves Ireland so,
Strike boldly for freedom like Harry Munro.
Here's a health to each hero who for freedom does stand,
May their souls rest in peace who died for our land;
Remember the martyrs were slain by the foe -
Brave Emmett, Fitzgerald, and Harry Munro.