A guide to trace your ancestors from Lurgan, County Armagh and from the County of Armagh

Riot At Silverwood 1887

Ulster Winter Assizes.

The Belfast News-Letter,
Saturday, December 17,


Mr. JUSTICE HARRISON sat yesterday morning in the Crown Court of the County Courthouse, Crumlin Road, and resumed the business of the Ulster winter assizes. Mr. Henry H. Bottomley, Under-Sheriff, was present. Mr. H. McNeile McCormick, Clerk of the Crown, was also in attendance.



James Boyd, James Duff, Andrew Geddes, Robert Gracey, John Gracey, and William John Myers were indicted for riot at Silverwood on the 12th July, 1887.

Mr James Orr, Q.C., and Mr. David Fitzgerald (instructed by Mr. Kilkelly, Crown Solicitor, Armagh) prosecuted; and Mr. Chambers (instructed by Mr. Menary) defended.

Several witnesses were examined on the previous evening.

John Brown, a Crown witness, recalled by Mr. CHAMBERS, stated that he had been in jail for assault, and also for fraudulent enlistment.

Sarah Mallon, in reply to Mr. ORR, proved that on the evening of the 12th July, at Silverwood, she heard the music of the drums. There might have been 300 in the procession. There were only ten or twelve Roman Catholics there – boys and girls. One of the processionists waved a flag over the heads of the Roman Catholics. John Gracey took off his coat and struck witness, knocking her down. James Brown tried to rescue the witness, but the stones were coming too thickly. She became unconscious. She was taken to Lavery’s and there she heard stones coming through the windows. She saw Sarah Gordon with stones in her apron.

Cross-examined by Mr. CHAMBERS – Witness stopped on the bridge because she was afraid of the Orangemen. She did not see anything remarkable in John Gracey’s behaviour. He was in front of the procession. She watched him when he came back, for it was then he struck her with a stone. She could not tell whether the Roman Catholic party were sitting on the wall or not.

William Gibson said he was at Silverwood when the procession passed. He saw stones thrown. He saw James Boyd, Andrew Geddes, Robert Gracey, and William John Myers there. Myers fired shots.

Cross-examined by Mr. CHAMBERS – Witness was in a field at the time. He saw boys running up the road, but he could not say whether the prisoners were chasing them or not. He did not know any of those at the bridge before the procession came up, but he could identify James Boyd at the same place. There was no stone thrown at witness.

Catherine Lavery gave evidence of an attack on her house. She identified Boyd and Duff. They were throwing stones.

Margaret Lavery gave similar evidence. She was cut with a stone.

By Mr. CHAMBERS – She did not know any of the persons at the bridge.

Edward McConville proved that he saw Duff and Boyd running towards Lavery’s. He heard shots fired.

By Mr. CHAMBERS – Witness saw no stones thrown.

John Mallon identified James Boyd and John Gracey as having been present during the disturbance. John Gracey struck witness’s mother with a stone.

By Mr. Chambers – Witness had been summoned by the police.

Isabella Lavery gave evidence of stones coming through her window. Her sister was struck. She identified Robert Gracey, James Duff, and James Boyd as having thrown stones. Robert Gracey and Duff had their coats off.

Daniel McConville and John McAlinden identified several of the prisoners as being present at the disturbance.

In reply to Mr. CHAMBERS, McConville stated he had been in trouble with the police. He was fined £1 for knocking doors at Halloweve.

This closed the Crown case.

James Patterson was examined. John Gracey was not a member of the procession. When the procession came across the bridge a man named Lavery attempted to take off his coat, and called on the best Orangeman on the road to come back. At this time nearly all the procession had passed. John Mallon threw stones at the procession. He did not see any of the prisoners throwing stones, but he saw that they had been cut by stones. John Gracey did not come back that witness saw.

William Cush stated that he was along with the procession as it came to the bridge. There was a number of persons at the bridge. The procession was going home peaceably. He saw five boys at the bridge coming after the procession. He turned back to prevent a row, and at that time a shower of stones came from the bridge. No stones were thrown by the procession. Geddes was cut with a stone, and he ran after those who had thrown stones. Robert Gracey followed Geddes to bring him back. He had not time to be at Lavery’s house. John Gracey threw no stones. The procession passed about a dozen Roman Catholic houses. None of them were attacked.

By Mr. ORR – There might have been three hundred persons in the procession, and about a dozen at the bridge.

William Cassells proved that he was with the procession, which went quietly through Silverwood. Stones were thrown after the procession. Witness was struck on the head, and cut. He ran back to see who threw stones. He was the first who ran back. He did not go so far as Lavery’s house. He did not see Andrew Geddes at Lavery’s house. The disturbance lasted about ten minutes. He did not see Gracey with his coat off.

Edward Murray said he was with the procession when going through Silverwood. Watson Little was with witness. When the procession had passed the music stopped, and witness turned back to see why. He saw Robert Gracey going up to Lavery’s. He was following Andrew Geddes and William Cassells, and turned them back. They had not got the length of Lavery’s house. They rejoined the procession, which then went home. John Gracey was in front of the procession, and witness left him there when he turned. He did not see Duff there. Myers was in the procession. None of the prisoners threw stones that witness saw.

By Mr. ORR – He did not know who made the Roman Catholic party run away. He believed there were no stones thrown at Lavery’s house by the Orangemen.

Valentine Russell proved that he was in the front of the procession. John Gracey was with him, and went on before him when witness stopped. A crowd of the Roman Catholic party threw stones at the procession. He saw Andrew Geddes and William Cassells bleeding. They said, “Men, are we going to stand up and be murdered this way?” They came to see who threw stones. At that time the party that had thrown the stones had gone. Geddes, Cassells, and witness followed this party as far as Lavery’s. There was a Roman Catholic party in a field at Lavery’s, and John Brown threw a stone that went through Lavery’s kitchen window. The Orangemen did not throw stones at Lavery. Witness was not an Orangeman. Robert Gracey pushed two men back to their lodges.

By Mr. FITZGERALD – John Gracey had no drink taken that witness could see. He did not take off his coat, nor throw a stone at Sarah Mallon.

Watson Little said he was master of one of the lodges. He saw an opposition party at Silverwood Bridge. Witness stopped at the bridge to see that all the procession had got past. There was a shower of stones thrown at the procession. Andrew Geddes, Cassells, and Robert Gracey came back out of the procession. Gracey took the other two men back, and the three joined the procession. None of the prisoners threw any stones. 

By Mr. ORR – The Orange meeting was not a teetotal one. None of the Orangemen showed signs of drink. He did not see Sarah Mallon  knocked down. No woman was struck at the bridge. He could not prove that the Roman Catholics attacked Lavery’s, but he could prove that none of the Orangemen attacked it. None of the prisoners threw stones. Witness had no pistol with him, nor did he hear any shots fired.

William John Bullock proved that he did not see any of the prisoners throwing stones. Geddes was cut on the face with a stone. Myers fired no shots, nor had he any pistol.

Thomas Burns proved that the Roman Catholic party threw stones at the procession. Witness was struck with a stone and knocked down by John Brown, one of the witnesses for the Crown. James Boyd assisted witness up. Brown was standing at the bridge wall at the time. Witness pursued Brown, but Robert Gracey brought him back.

By Mr. ORR – Witness would have struck Brown if he could have done so. None of the procession  was drunk. He did not see Sarah Mallon there.

Sarah Gordon gave evidence of the attack by the Roman Catholics on the procession. John Mallon attempted to take his coat off. Mallon threw stones at the procession. She saw two of the prisoners cut with stones. She had no stones in her apron that day, nor did she throw one.

William Turkington, Jane Pollock, Thomas Shean, John Whiteside, and Mary Myers gave similar evidence.

Acting-Sergeant Fairly said he saw the Orange procession. John Gracey was not drunk.

District-Inspector Bigley proved that he saw John Gracey in the procession. He was sober, both leaving Lurgan and at half-past eight that evening, when arrested. Witness visited Lavery’s house next morning. One window in the front was broken. There was a lot of stones on the street, but no marks on the house. He had the impression that the stones were placed there for effect. He found stones inside the house. One of the windows in the back was broken. The windows were rotten. One or two stones would have caused all the injury that was done in the front. About 5s would have covered the whole damage.

By Mr. ORR – Lavery had been awarded compensation at the presentment sessions. He considered some stones in the house were placed there for effect.

Mr. CHAMBERS address the jury for the defence.

His LORDSHIP summed up the evidence.

The jury found the prisoners not guilty, and they were discharged.

Mr. Orr said, having regard to that verdict, he would enter a nolle prosequi in the cases of the Roman Catholic prisoners, who were charged with riot on the same occasion.


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