The Queen vs Kelly: Part IV

Continued from The Queen vs. Kelly: Part III.

Hard Times, Hard Labour

As reported in Part III, John Kelly entered the Dominion Penitentiary at Kingston on 15 May 1841, to serve a one-year sentence for the manslaughter of his brother-in-law Michael Hourigan.

Dickens described the penitentiary as ‘well and wisely governed’…

While we don’t have any details specific to Kelly’s one-year confinement in the penitentiary, we can assume it was a harsh, if not hellish experience. Though touted as a model of the new, and more humane approach to punishment and rehabilitation — when Charles Dickens visited the Dominion Penitentiary in the 1840s, he described it as “an admirable jail,…well and wisely governed, and excellently regulated, in every respect” 1 — the new prison at Kingston was in fact “a place of violence and oppression.” From an online history at Correctional Service Canada:

At the root of its problems in the early years was its first warden, Henry Smith. Smith’s use of flogging, even in an age when it was an accepted form of discipline, was flagrant. In 1847, inmates were given 6,063 floggings, an average of 12 per inmate. Women, and children as young as eight were flogged. As well, Smith punished inmates with shackling, solitary confinement, bread-and-water diets, darkened cells, submersion in water, 35-pound yokes, and imprisonment in the “box,” an upright coffin. His son ran the kitchen, profiteering by diverting food and serving rotten meat. In his spare time, he tortured inmates, once putting out a prisoner’s eye at archery practice.

Even by the severe standards of the day, Smith’s treatment of the prisoners was considered outrageous, and he was removed from his post as warden after an investigation into his abuses in 1848.

Kelly received a ‘Travelling allowance’…

Whatever punishments and privations he suffered during his year of hard labour, he certainly survived the ordeal. John Kelly was released from prison on 21 May 1842, as prisoner number 502, from the Bathurst district, at which point he was described as 29 years of age, 5 ft 11 inches in height, with a “sallow complexion,” blue eyes, and brown hair.2 See below, with John Kelly highlighted in yellow (and note the name of the warden at the bottom right of the page: the infamous H. [Henry] Smith). Upon release, Kelly was given a “Travelling allowance” of 18 shillings and 4 pence.3

Return of Convicts discharged from the Provincial Penitentiary in the year ending 1st October, 1842.

What Happened Afterwards?: The Hourigans

Mary Lahey, aka The Widow Hourigan, lived the rest of her life in March township. In both the 1861 and 1871 census returns for March township, she is found in the household of her nephew and godson John Lahey and his wife Margaret Jane Killeen. She died before 1881.

Patrick Hourigan (son of Timothy Hourigan and Mary Lahey and brother of Michael) married (13 Nov 1848, St. Philip’s, Richmond) Ann Teevens, daughter of Bernard Teevens and Mary McNulty. Ann apparently died not long after giving birth to twin sons (John and Thomas, born 14 September 1849). In the 1851 census, the twin boys are found in the household of their Teevens grandparents in Huntley township, while their father Patrick, now a widower, is found working as a labourer in Torbolton township. The Hourigan twins, neither of whom ever married, can be found with their Teevens relations until at least 1891. I have not found their father Patrick in any records later than 1851, so I don’t know what happened to him, but it was his younger brother Thomas who inherited the property that the Widow Hourigan had petitioned for in 1826.

Thomas Hourigan (son of Timothy Hourigan and Mary Lahey and brother of Michael) married (13 May 1850, Notre Dame, Ottawa) Julia Moran, daughter of James Moran and Margaret Jamieson. The couple had four children: Mary Ann, James, Margaret Amelia, and Thomas. Thomas Sr. died between about 1857 and 1861: by the 1861 census enumeration, Julia Moran Hourigan was a widow with four young children, who lived for a time with their Moran relations in Huntley. Three of the four children died single, with Margaret Amelia the only one to marry. Margaret Amelia Hourigan married (29 November 1881, St. Isidore, March township) Hugh Andrew Lunney, son of Edward Joseph Lunney and Johanna Mantle. When her brother Thomas Hourigan died in March 1899, he left her his farm.

To be continued in Part V, the final installment.

  1. Charles Dickens, American Notes (London: Chapman and Hall: 1874), etext edition, University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center 1996, pp. 240-241.
  2. Return of Convicts discharged from the Provincial Penitentiary in the year ending 1st October, 1842, Appendix G, Appendix to the third volume of the journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, from the 28th day of September to the 9th day of December, in the year of Our Lord 1843, and in the seventh year of the reign of Our Sovereign Lady Queen Victoria, being the third session of the first provincial Parliament of Canada, session 1843, Kingston: E.J. Barker, 1844.
  3. General Account of Disbursements during the year ending 1st October 1842, in Ibid.