Pictured in October 1986 is the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Sammy Wilson, reading a letter of protest against the Anglo-Eire conference in Dublin. He is supported by Castlereagh mayor and DUP leader Peter Robinson. Picture: News Letter archives
Pictured in October 1986 is the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Sammy Wilson, reading a letter of protest against the Anglo-Eire conference in Dublin. He is supported by Castlereagh mayor and DUP leader Peter Robinson. Picture: News Letter archives

THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: From the News Letter of November 1890

Rowdyism in Banbridge and an attempted rescue

Friday, 27th November 2020, 8:00 am

On Saturday, November 22, 1890, shortly before 11 o’clock, as Sergeant Flannigan and Constable Lamont were on duty in Banbridge, Co Down, on entering Scarva Street, “they observed a number of corner boys and a few men of the farming class” in “rather an excited condition”.

On going over to ascertain what was going on they concluded that the disturbance had been “created through partyism” and dispersed the crowd.

However, in doing so they had to take one of the men, a man named Patrick McComish, into custody as he was “under the influence of drink”.

They had only got a short distance when the mob attempted to rescue the prisoner. The sergeant was knocked down, kicked and “severely maltreated”, his overcoat being torn.

Constable Lamont came off less injured but not “scot free”.

After the sergeant was released he arrested James Kerr for “the attempted rescue”, and allowed McComish to proceed home “under the care of two respectable townspeople”.

Shortly after Kerr was placed in the cells three young men, Roman Catholics, called at the barracks, followed by a crowd.

These visitors requested protection for their homes, and a promise was given by the authorities to have their request carried out.

This, however, did not quite satisfy their demands, and a charge was made for Dr Robert B McClelland, JP, whom they succeeded in waking up by loud knocking.

He came downstairs and heard the grievances.

He advised them to “go home quietly” and he said that he was sure the constabulary would “see them safely to their rendezvous”.

After leaving Dr McClelland’s a visit was thought necessary to Dr William Smyth, JP, who advised them to go home peaceably.

The following morning Kerr was taken before Dr Smyth and charged with the attempted rescue.

Having procured sufficient sureties to stand his trial at petty sessions, he was allowed out on bail.

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