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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 173 of Clonmell) having summed up the evidence, the jury retired a few minutes, and returned with a verdict of guilty, which the audience heard with strong manifestations of disapprobation. Mr. Rowan was conveyed back to Mewgate ; and as Mr. Curran-who had been repeatedly applauded even in CourCwas about to proceed home, the horses were taken from his carriage, and he was drawn to his own house by the people-a vast crowd of whom were congregated, anxiously waiting the result of the trial. A motion was made on the part of Hamilton Rowan for a new trial ; but this being overruled, he was brought before the Court of King’s Bench on the 7th February, when Justice Boyd pronounced the sentence of the Gourd“ That Archibald Hamilton Rowan should be imprisoned in the gaol of Newgate, for two years, to commence from the day of his trial ; that he should pay a fine of X500 to his Majesty, and remain in prison till the same be paid; and that he shall give security to keep the peace for seven years himself, in 322000, and two sureties in .€E1000 each.” In his defence before the Court, Mr. Rowan did not attempt to palliate his political conducd“1 have heard much of United Irishmen,” said he -“much calumny here and elsewhere. I avow myself to be one -my name has appeared to several of their publications. I glory in the name. On entering tha.t Society I took a test, by which I am bound to seek for the emancipation of every class of my fellow-citizens, and to procure (by spreading information, for that is the only mode a few men assembled in Back-lane can adopt) a reform in the representation of the people-a reform, the necessity of which has been allowed even in Parliament. These are our objects-objects which I am bound to pursue to their completion.” Mr. Rowan had not been long in Newgate when, by the arrest of Jacksonan English divine who came to Ireland as an emissary of the French-he had every reason to think it probable that he might be implicated in a charge of high treason. He therefore resolved to effect his escape-which he accomplished in a singular and romantic manner. From his station in society, and respectability of character, he was frequently permitted to accompany Mrs. Rowan without the walls to her carriage, and indulged in many other privileges by the gaolers. Of his escape and subsequent particulars of his history, the following unvarnished yet interesting narrative has been given by himself : “Dublin, December 1816. . “When I had been in Newgate about four months, in consequence of my sentence, the Rev. Mr. Jackson, an Englishman, and an emissary from France, came to this country. He was accompanied by another person, to whom he had communicated the object of his mission, and who pretended to assist his views, but had in fact betrayed him to the minister, and accompanied him to Ireland as a spy. We had several conferences ; and at last a statement of the situation of this country waa agreed upon and given to Jackson, in my hand-writing. Mr. Jackson’s friend waa employed by him to put this into the Post Office, directed to Hamburgh. He was seized in the act, and takeu before the Privg. CounciL Mr. Jackson was committed to prison. In the evening Mr. Jackson’s friend came to my room, and reqiiested I would procure him admission to Jackson, which I did ; for at this time there was no suspicion of the friend, nor of my being implicated with Jackson. In this interview he said, that in his examination he had acknowledged the letter to have been given to him by Jackson ; They were introduced to me in the jail.
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174 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. said the Privy Council seemed to be much exasperated against me, and had asked him whether the statement was not in my hand-writing ?-which he had answered by saying he had never seen me write ; that his examination was not legal evidence, as he had refused to sign it ; and that he was determined to return immediately to England ; but that at any rate it was necessary to have two witnesses to convict of high treason ; and if we adhered to one another we should be safe. I asked him whether Jackson’s situation would be rendered worse in case I could make my escape. He said, No ; but he feared the thing would be impossible. I left him with his friend and have never seen him since.‘ “ The next morning I set about my scheme, and got it accomplished at twelve that night. It would be a waste of paper to recount the various deceptions practised on the under jailor, which induced him to accompany me to my own house, where a rope being slung ready out of a two pair of stairs window, enabled me to descend into the garden, and to take a horse out of the stable, and meet a friend who should conduct me to a place of refuge. “When the gaoler became impatient, and forced into my wife’s room, she made him every offer if he would conceal himself and go to America, not raising a pursuit, but permitting it to be supposed that he had accompanied me in my flight, which he absolutely refused, swearing that he would as soon see me hanged.a I was taken to the house of a gentleman named Sweetman, since dead. It was soon found that the most probable means of escaping from this country would be a small pleasure boat of Mr. Sweetman’s ; but she was neither sea-worthy, nor equipped for a Channel cruise ; and a farther question was, who would risk themselves with me who were not in the same danger! Mr. Sweetman, however, did not despair, and was successful. He procured three sailors of the vicinity of Buldoyle, where his house was, about four miles from Dublin, to whom he promised they should be well paid if they would take a gentleman to France in his boat ; and they consented. Two of them, the most trusty, had been in the smuggling trade, and knew the coasts of both countries. In the evening, when Mr. Sweetman returned, the three men came to him and showed him a proclamation which had been distributed during his absence, and which offered in different sums-from the Government, the city, and the gaoler-nearly 22000 for my apprehension. They said, ‘It is Mr. Hamilton Rowan we are to take to France ;’ without hesitation he answered it was. They as instantly replied, ‘ Never mind it. “We sailed with a fair wind, which, however, in the night got ahead, and blew hard. As we could not keep the sea, we returned to our old moorings under Howth. The next day the wind was again fair ; and after some other occurrences on the third day I landed at Roscoff, on the coast of Bretagne, under the fortified town of St. Paul de Leon. “ I remained an eventful year in France, and sailed from Havre, passing as an American to Philadel~hia.~ My departure from France being known, the Earl of Clare gave Mrs. H. R. an assurance that, although the prosecution against me must proceed with the utmost rigour, yet he would use his influence to procure a restoration of the estates to the family-eight children and herself. All the forms of law were gone through, except the appointment of an agent for “ The next day was occupied in procuring provisions, charts, etc. etc. By - we will land him safe.’ The fate of Jackson created great excitement in Dublin. His trial took place in April 1794 ; and being convicted, he was brought up for judgment on the 30th of the same month. He was observed to be suffering from acute bodily pain ; and, while sentence was about to be pronounced, he dropped down and expired. On a post-nwrtent examination it appeared that his death was occasioned by poison, which he had himself administered. * Two of the under keepers of Newgate, Alexander M‘Dowell and William M‘Dowell, were brought to trial at the Court of King’s Bench for “aiding and assisting the escape of Archibald Hamilton Rowan, and sentenced to be imprisoned one year and nine months, being the annexed period of Mr. Rowan’s sentence, and to pay a fine of E250 each, making 2500-the sum which Mr. Rowan was condemned to pay.” He had a narrow escape ; the vessel in which he sailed was boarded by his Majesty’s ship MeZump ; and Mr. Rowan was introduced. to the officer as a Mr. Thomson of South Carolina. Soon after his arrival, he had the singular plemure of meeting accidentally, at a caf6 in Philadelphia, some of his most distinguished friends, Wolfe Tone, Napper Tandy, Thomas Addis Emmet, and others : all active leaders of the United Irishmen, and who had separately succeeded in reaching America. a Mr. Rowan arrived in Philadelphia from Havre on the 17th July 1795.
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