Trial of William Pearse

prisoner number twenty-seven

 

REFERENCE: PRO WO71/358

William Pearse was tried along with John Dougherty (prisoner number twenty-six), John McGarry (prisoner number twenty-eight), and J.J. Walsh (prisoner number twenty-nine)

DATE: 3 May 1916

LOCATION: Richmond Barracks

JUDGES: Colonel E.W.S.K. Maconchy (President), Lieutenant Colonel A.M. Bent, Major F.W Woodward

 

CHARGE:

‘Did an act to wit did take part in an armed rebellion and in the waging of war against His Majesty the King, such act being o such a nature as to be calculated to be prejudical to the Defence to the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy

 

PLEA: William Pearse was the only one of the four here accused to plead guilty. The others pleaded not guilty.

 

(The members of the court and witnesses were duly sworn in)

 

VERDICT: All were found Guilty. Death by being shot (‘John McGarry is recommended to mercy on the grounds that he was misled by the leaders’)

 

Text of Trial

1st witness

Lieu. S.L. King 12th Batn. R. Inniskilling Fusiliers states:-

On Tuesday the 25th April at 11 a.m. I was seized by two armed men outside Clery’s shop opposite the General Post Office. John Dougherty was one of the two. He held a revolver at me and told me if I did not put my hands up he would blow my brains out. He took me to the General Post office where I was held as a prisoner till Friday night. I was in uniform. I saw each of the other prisoners in the G.P.O. while I was there and during that time the Post Office was held against His Majesty’s troops by men firing against the troops. There was another officer there Lieut Chalmers who was wounded, also in uniform. I know that William Pearce was an officer but do not know his rank. I do not know what McGarry’s position was. He was not in uniform. J. Walsh did not appear to be in any authoritative position but was dressed in uniform. I saw Pearse, McGarry and Walsh wearing equipment, belts and pouches. Dougherty had a revolver but no equipment. It was Dougherty who threatened to blow my brains out, not the man with him. I am quite certain that I saw McGarry with equipment on.

 

DEFENCE

 

John Dougherty states: ­-

I did not say that I would blow Lieut King’s brains out.

 

William Pearse states:-

I had no authority or say in the arrangements for the starting of the rebellion. I was throughout – only a personal attaché to my brother P.H. Pearse. I had no direct command.

 

John McGarry states:-

I had no intention of assisting the enemy. I had no position or rank of any sort. I was employed as a messenger. I did not know of the rebellion until the Post Office was taken. I had no rifle.

 

J.J. Walsh states:-

During the past eighteen months I have held no official position either big or little in the Irish Volunteers or any other national movement and my whole attention was confined to business. I gave it up at the time of the split between the Redmondites and the Irish Volunteers. I mean my official position. I remained in the Volunteers as a private and on being mobilised on Monday I knew nothing whatever of the intention of the mobilisation. I fired on nobody during the time in the Post Office. I had no arms whatever. I was told off to attend to the water and sand arrangements in case of fire.

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