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3 September 2015

The Returning Officer: Tories

Several witnesses testified to Ennis’s amiable nature but the jury found him guilty.

By Stephen Brasher

In March 1843, Richard Ennis, “of no settled place of residence”, was taken before the Kildare assizes and charged with being a vagabond and a Tory. The Waterford Chronicle noted: “In too many instances, [these are] synonymous terms!” The prosecution proceeded against Ennis under the law of Queen Anne “to suppress Tories, robbers and rapparees and for preventing persons from becoming Tories, or resorting to them”.

Several witnesses testified to Ennis’s amiable nature but the jury found him guilty. He was sentenced to three months in jail, during which time he had to find security of £10 himself and also from two others. If he was unable to raise the money, he was to be transported for seven years.

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This article appears in the 26 Aug 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Isis and the new barbarism