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Lot 67: [PATRICK O'DONNELL] An autograph signed letter

800 Years Irish Political, Literary & Military History

by Adam's

April 30, 2013

Dublin, Ireland

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Description: [PATRICK O'DONNELL] An autograph signed letter from Charles Russell to Gladstone, 10 Dec. 1883, from Brick Court Temple in London, concerning the sentence of death on P[atrick] O'Donnell, convicted of the murder of James Carey ( who had given information against the 'Invincibles'). 'I have long hesitated before coming to the conclusion that I ought to trouble you with this communication .. There is.. a question of public policy .. If justice does not imperatively demand that O'Donnell's life be forfeited - I feel strongly that the interests of peace would best be served by commuting his sentence to penal servitude. I fear his execution would involve injurious consequences ..' With an unyielding reply from Gladstone, apparently misunderstanding Russell's motive, in an A.L.S. from Hawarden dated Dec. 13 [18]83. 'I can well understand the motives which may lead Counsel, especially in a case of life, to use every effort which may seem in any way allowable on behalf of a client. I am however in fairness bound to say that, so far as I am able to judge, I should not, had I been in the place of the Secretary of State, have arrived at any other judgement in the case of O'Donnell than that which he has, I believe, made known to you.' A chilling exchange. O'Donnell, from Donegal, was hanged at Newgate Prison on 17 December. He had followed Carey to South Africa, where he was resettled by the British Government under a false name after giving evidence against five of his former associates in the 'Invincibles', who were themselves all executed for their part in the 'Phoenix Park' murders. (2)

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