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Lot 67: [PATRICK O'DONNELL] An autograph signed letter
800 Years Irish Political, Literary & Military History
April 30, 2013
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 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)