Anonymous letter writer provides verson of ‘the facts’

Jim Hornby
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The Examiner, April 18

The conduct of a certain Capt. B. in whipping an Indian who stole some of his clothes, has been brought before the public by the Georgetown correspondent of the Monitor, and since commented on in the Examiner of the 4th instant by a correspondent over the Signature of Roger Riddler. The facts were as follows. On the morning in question Capt. B. discovered that some shirts of his had been stolen off his clothesline during the night by a drunken Indian, whom he soon found, with the shirts in his possession, and which he acknowledged to have stolen. He accompanied Capt. B. to his residence to restore the property. On the way they met a Magistrate, who, handing his whip to Capt. B., told him the best thing he could do would be to give him a good whipping and let him go. The Capt took the whip, and while he made the Indian replace the property where he found it, gave him a few lashings of the whip--not on his bare back, as stated by the Monitor’s correspondent, but over his clothes; and I, in common with others who saw the proceeding, thought it was much better than sending him to jail, to fatten at the public expense, for the next three months. (Unsigned letter.)

Jim Hornby: This letter does not deny “Roger Riddler’s” identification of “Capt. B.” as “the Captain of the Georgetown Volunteers” — namely, Charles Owen.


The Islander, April 19

MURDEROUS ASSAULT ON A BAILIFF. On Friday evening last, the 8th inst., as David Quigley, Bailiff, of the Small Debts Court at Tryon, was in the act of seizing a horse upon the premises of John Runnahan, Lot 27, of the Back Settlement, an absconding debtor, he was furiously attacked by Mrs. Runnahan, her son, about 15, and daughter about 17 years of age. Mrs. R. had armed herself with a pitchfork, the lad with an axe, and the girl with a large cudgel. During the day Quigley had been engaged in making sap troughs for Runnahan’s next neighbour, and consequently had his own axe at hand, with which he successfully parried the dreadful thrusts made at him by the mother, who did her utmost to plunge the fork into his body; at the same time the son struck him twice with the edge of the axe. The first blow fell upon the left side of his neck, cutting through his coat collar, vest, necktie and shirt, leaving a dangerous wound in the vicinity of the jugular vein; the second blow fell directly upon his left cheek, leaving a wound from four to five inches in length, and about three-quarters of an inch in depth; he was also struck from behind, as he believes, by the daughter, upon the left arm, which, for the time, completely disabled it. Quigley, however, was not to be easily driven from his purpose, the rope which served him instead of a bridle he secured to his wounded arm, and with his axe in his right hand, he at length drove the murderous party before him. Having obtained assistance from the man for whom he had been at work during the day, he managed to get home with the animal whose seizure had nearly cost him his life. Doctor Potts was immediately sent for, who, upon examining the wounds in his neck and face, stated in evidence that had either been a little lower down, they would have caused almost instant death. On Saturday the three outlaws were apprehended, and after a summary examination of the case, by three magistrates, they were immediately committed to prison to stand their trial for the offence, at the Supreme Court, to be holden at Saint Eleanor’s.

J.H.: The desperation of the poor tenant farm family is vividly shown in this brutal attack; the loss of the horse may have represented destitution. In June, after a trial, Patrick Runahan, the son who inflicted the serious axe wounds on Bailiff Quigley, was sentenced to 12 months at hard labour; his mother and sister received jail sentences of 12 months and six months.


Ross’s Weekly, April 21

For a lark, some wag or wags placed a human skull in or under the building undergoing repairs which adjoins

Apothecaries Hall. The skull was discovered by the workmen, and on the strength of the discovery, the most improbable stories have been in circulation, which are ridiculous and laughable in the extreme. As the announcement of the finding of the skull passed from mouth to mouth, part of the community were fully impressed with the idea that a frightful crime had been committed--a woman had been murdered--and the skeleton found had brought evidence to light! The skull had grown to a whole skeleton, under the skillful manipulation of busy tongues and lively imaginations.

J.H.: Local “wags” or jokesters put a lot of energy into pranks, which could range from inserting a bogus marriage notice in a newspaper to putting someone’s axle on the roof of his barn. Apothecaries Hall, at the northeast corner of Queen and Grafton streets, was the name of the druggist shop of Theophilus Desbrisay, who installed the 18-pounder cannon barrel on the corner in 1860 to commemorate the visit of the Prince of Wales.    


Jim Hornby’s column, “1864: The Way We Were: gleanings from Charlottetown’s newspapers,” will be presented in  The Guardian every Monday throughout 2014 (on holiday Mondays when there is no paper, it will appear on Tuesdays). It contains excerpts from various newspapers of that era, as well as Hornby’s comments on what he has found.To give feedback on this feature, which is presented in celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Charlottetown Conference, contact the author at

Organizations: Signature of Roger Riddler, Small Debts Court, Supreme Court

Geographic location: Georgetown, Charlottetown, Queen

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