Castle Rushen Papers.
1781. TWO IRISHMEN HANGED FOR HIGHWAY ROBBERY.
The following is a rough draft of a letter from Lieut.-Governor Richard Dawson (1775-1790) to the Home Office in February, 1781. It would appear that the Governors humane appeal for mercy for the prisoners was unheeded, and the criminals were hanged.
It is with great concern that I am to report your Lordship the trial and conviction of Mattw Tracey and James Gollagher two private soldiers of the Fencible Battalion of this Isle for having on the Highway on the evens of the 16t ult. robbed one Joseph Mortimor of his watch 48 gu and some silver. Mortimor was also wounded in the face but not dangerously. There were three others also indicted for the same Robbery viz. Jas. Chapman John Clark and Roger McGongil. The slightest suspicion falling upon Chapman he was admitted Kings Evidence. By his Testimony corroborated by a chain of circumstances it appeared that by the advice and contrivance of Tracey, Gollagher and Chapman waylaid Mortimor whom Tracey inveigled out of town (under a pretence of business) and brought back in the dusk of the evens that Tracey was to pretend to have been robbed and that it was agreed upon between Tracey Gollagher and Chapman that the Booty was to be divided equally among them. Gollagher confessed the fact corresponding in every circumstance with Chapmans evidence and on his arraignment would have pleaded guilty but was out of tenderness advised to retract his confession and put himself upon his trial which he accordingly did. After the fairest trial by a very intelligent jury and upon the clearest evidence corroborated by the strongest corresponding circumstances, Tracey and Gollagher were found guilty and recd sentence of Death accordingly. Clark and McGongill were acquitted.
The execution of these convicts has been respited by me for three weeks and if necessary shall from time to time be further respited to give time for His Majestys pleasure to be known. As this robbery was unattended either by murder or any wanton act of cruelty, if His Majesty should not think it absolutely necessary to order a warrant of the execution of either of them, your Lordp will be pleased to send orders how they are to be disposed of. They are two very strong and able bodied men and fit for any labour or service.
[see also documents 119 and 193]