The Newgate Calendar - WILLIAM QUIN

Imprisoned and Whipped for a Malicious Assault on a Strike-breaker

            THIS misguided man was a native of Dublin, where he worked in a coach-maker's yard. In 1814 these was what is called a turn-out amongst coach-builders for higher wages, and Quin was one of those who contended for the new regulations. On the 1st of September he met a man named Kelly, a blacksmith, who had come up from the country in the hope of getting employment. He asked Kelly what he was doing. 'Looking for work,' he replied. What hire did you ask?' inquired Quin. Kelly replied, 'Not any particular wages; but a gentleman told me there was a turn-out amongst the men, but that, if I chose to work for sixteen shillings and three-pence, he would employ me.' 'I won't go into any yard,' said Quin, 'under nineteen shillings and sixpence or a pound,' and then left him.

            Kelly, driven by distress, did go into Mr. Long's yard, in Mary Street, for sixteen shillings and three-pence a week, where he had only worked a few days when the combinators resolved to slate him, the Dublin flash word for an unmerciful beating.

            On the 15th of the same month they put their threat into practice, just as Kelly and two other men were going across the street to their work. The two men saw their danger, and ran; but Kelly, apprehending no danger, was proceeding regularly into Mr. Long's yard, when a man came up, and struck him in the eye with a stone. Kelly, being recently from the country, knew how to handle his limbs, and tripped up his assailant; another, who attacked him, he served in the same way; when four men, armed with clubs, ran across the street, and knocked him down; and, when down, pommelled his face against the pavement, until released from his perilous situation by Mr. Long's men. Kelly recognised Quin as being the first of the four men who beat him, and it was Quin who knocked him down with the new spoke of a coach-wheel.

            For this barbarous attack upon an unprotected stranger Quin was apprehended, and indicted September the 24th, 1814, for the assault, The jury, without hesitation, found him Guilty; and the recorder, previous to pronouncing sentence, observed that, if the prisoner possessed any of the common feelings of humanity, he must perceive the wickedness of the act he had committed, from the situation in which he had left the unfortunate prosecutor. The Court were at a loss what punishment to inflict for a misdemeanour accompanied with such atrocities. There was no crime short of murder or high treason that called for a higher degree of punishment than that of which the prisoner had been convicted: yet he trusted that the sentence which he was about to pronounce would have a more salutary effect than that which was pronounced, not a fortnight ago, for a similar offence. If that sentence had had the desired effect, the prisoner would not now be standing at the bar of the Court, an atrocious offender against the peace of the country. There was, however, one consolation, that, under such circumstances of brutality, death did not ensue; for, if homicide had been the consequence, no power on earth would have prevented the prisoner from suffering an ignominious death. When men of the description of the prisoner enter into those illegal combinations, they do not see the fatal consequences likely to follow: they are as bitter enemies to themselves as to the man they attack -- disgraceful to themselves, disgraceful to their families, and disgraceful to their country: and all this is done, and those atrocious acts committed, to prevent an innocent and unoffending man from earning an honest livelihood,-- against a man guilty of no other crime--against whom there was no cause ever to harbour resentment: but it seemed to be the determination of such men as the prisoner to carry their rules and regulations into execution with more despotic sway than is practised in the most inflamed counties.

            The prisoner was sentenced to be imprisoned for six months on each of the indictments; and, on the indictment for the assault with an intent to murder, to be publicly whipped twice, to be fined fifty marks, and to give security for good behaviour, himself in one hundred pounds, and two sureties in fifty pounds each.

            On the 2d of November Quin underwent the first whipping; but it appeared the common executioner by no means did his duty, and for this purpose another was provided for his second laceration. The figure of this person was highly grotesque: he appeared to be an able tall man, in a grey coat, with a huge wig, and a large slouched hat; but his face was the most singular part of his appearance; it was completely covered with yellow ochre, strongly tattooed with deep lines of black. He, however, fully answered the purpose for which he was employed, cutting the unfortunate and misguided man's back at every stroke, which he bore with a firmness and stoicism worthy of a better cause. Quin chewed a bullet between his teeth the whole of the way, and did not suffer even a groan to escape him. When arrived at the Royal Exchange he smiled on the crowd with the air of a martyr; and the people set up a shout, mixed with hisses and execrations, against the magistrates and police; but the executioner was the principal object of their fury, and they manifested every disposition for riot, which was timely suppressed, and several of the ringleaders were taken into custody.


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