The Conway Murder.

The Death Penalty carried out this morning.

The First Execution in the New Jail.

Michael Farrell, Farmer, of St. Catherines, county of Portneuf, was executed, this morning, at eight o’clock, in the jail yard, on Abraham heights, in the presence of about 200 spectators, including his spiritual advisers, the Sheriff, the doctor of the jail, and the Press representatives. The morning opened clear and cold, and a little after daylight people could be seen wending their way to the prison. It was a beautiful morning for outdoor exercise, but a pitiable one for the doomed man.

The Cause of the Execution.

The particulars of the Murder and trial of Farrell are still fresh in the memories of our readers. It was on Sunday, the 25th of August, that Michael Farrell shot his neighbor and relative, Francis Conway. Farrell was, until about three years previous to the murder, on the most intimate terms with Conway, but through some angry words which happened between them, they became cold and distant.

Particulars of the Trial.

On the evening of. the ill-fated day, Farrell took it into head to surrender himself to the authorities, no doubt under the belief. that, as there had been —.-‘—.———-…——-.—-

that same evening, reaching Quebec city from St. Catherines, about 2 AM.  On entering the Police Headquarters, he stated that he came there to give himself up.

Constable Paquet swore at the trial, as follows:- I am a constable for the City of Quebec; know prisoner since the 26th of August. last; I was on duty at the Central Station; at three o’clock in the morning prisoner came to the station; he knocked at the door, when he told the witness that he had been sent there by the Deputy, Mr. Walsh; on asking his name he said it was Farrell; I then asked him if he was from St. Catherines; he said he was ; he then asked me if the affair had reached them; I answered, yes, that we had had some information about an hour before; I said it was a bad affair, to which he answered, “yes, he said it ,was about a fence; he said he had come to give himself up; I put him in a cell.

Captain Heigham swore :- On the morning of the 26th of August I heard that the prisoner had given himself up; I sent for him and asked him what offence he had committed; he said that he had shot the deceased, but that he had brought it on himself. I asked him what he had shot him with; he answered with a rifle; I told him not to say anything to criminate himself.

It will  be seen by the evidence of Constable Paquet, that Farrell stated, in answer to the constable that the unfortunate shooting arose from a row about a fence .

It must be borne in mind that Farrell, from the day of the murder up to the time of his death, held that it was about the throwing down of his fence, leaving it to him to put up again, that irritated him so much.

—–The Investigation.

The prisoner was brought before the Police Court, and after the preliminary investigation and the Coroner’s inquest, he was condemned to stand his trial for “willful murder” at the Court Of Queen’s Bench, in November.

That trial lasted about six days before Judge Monk and a mixed jury. Mr. John O’Farrell defended the prisoner, and Mr. Dunbar appeared on behalf of the Crown. The case excited a good deal or interest, and during the trial the court room was crowded with spectators and members of the bar.

The whole of the witnesses were kept out or Court until after their evidence was heard. The evidence was certainly of a strong character and could not be shaken very materially by the defence. After the jury were sworn in, Mr. Dunbar, for , the Crown , addressed them in both languages, stating that they were called upon to act as jurymen for one of the most important cases; that is of the prisoner being accused of murdering one Conway. He went on to state how he rose up from the table, where he was taking his supper and was seen going out or his house, as evidence will be produced to prove, not by the door or usual means, but by some other means. He proceeded to the bridge where Conway was to pass. As Conway was advancing towards him, the Prisoner gun in hand, called out to him three times to go back.

The deceased answered “I will go back, but allow me to say a few words. The prisoner without further hesitation, presented his rifle and fired, When Conway fell at the feet of his children, shot dead the bullet going through his head, being only a distance of five or six feet when he fired the fatal Shot .

He went on further to state the whole particulars of the murder, and that they could not only return a verdict of guilty, but also return a verdict, if he was guilty, with malice aforethought.

I am a farmer and a brother of the deceased; my :father is still alive; my brother went by Francis Conway, Jr. know the prisoner; he lived at St. Catherines; the distance between my father’s house and that of the deceased is five miles; the prisoner’s house from that of the deceased is four miles; I know the Gosford Railway track, it passes through the prisoner’s property; the track runs through the prisoner’s land for about fifteen acres; remember the 25th August last; I saw the deceased on that day about 11 o’clock in the morning; I met him about a half mile from his own house.

Here Mr. Dunbar showed a plan of the scene of the murder, also one from Mr. O’Farrell, who said that, the plan in the hands of the Crown Prosecutor was incorrect .

Mr. Dunbar said it was only a rough sketch of the place where the murder was committed, and its surroundings. The plans were then shown to the judges; ( the witness looks at the sketch and says it, shows the outlay of the houses and the spot where the deed was done ).

The judge adopts the plan in the hands of the Crown as being a rough sketch of the spot, and on it being handed to the jury he told them not to accept it as an authentic evidence, but merely a rough sketch where the deed was committed. The witness then pointed out to the jury by the plan, the location of the different surroundings.

Cross examined by Mr. O’Farrell for the defense,- The house of McLaughlin is on the line between Valcartier and St. Catherines; my father’s house and the prisoner’s is in St. Gabriel de Valcartier.

Cross-examined by Mr.Dunbar,- I saw the deceased leave his own house and go in the direction of his father’s house; he was accompanied by three little children, two of his own and one  of his brother’s; his little girl’s age is 11 years, his little son 9 years; they were going along the Gosford track; I did not see the prisoner at that time; I turned back with him; I first saw the prisoner about a couple of acres from the place where deceased met his  death­.

Judge Monk.- How far did you go with your brother before you saw the prisoner?

Answer.- About one mile and a half; that was in the morning. When we met the prisoner on the road he said to my brother: “What is the reason you are trespassing on my land?”

My brother was then on the railroad track; every person uses it, it being a public road: my brother answered: I am not on your land but on the railway track; ” prisoner said; “It is my land don’t you come back here anymore, or you won’t go off the same as you came;” . the prisoner then walked away , and my brother and myself went to my father’s house in company with the three children and remained there until about one o’clock; the distance Where the conversation took place between my brother and the prisoner is about two miles; when my brother left the house of my father I went with him; the children having left before us. We went to Mr. Griffin’s house for the children they having gone there previously. I remained at Griffins; I next saw the deceased at McLaughlin’s about a mile from Griffin’s; after four o’clock of the same day he asked Terrance McLaughlin to go up the track with him, saying he wanted him to be a witness if Farrell , done anything to him. Terrance McLaughlin said he would go with him; he made a remark to McLaughlin that he did not want to fight Farrell; the deceased then left in company with McLaughlin and myself; after leaving there we met the children; the deceased was walking on the track, and then told me to return as he did not require me; we took this road to go a part of the way home with the deceased; we met the prisoner about a mile on the track; he was running along the edge of a bush, about two acres from the track . Prisoner was about a mile from his own house; he was nearer his own house than deceased’s; he was running towards the direction of deceased’s house, with a gun in his hand; I kept in sight until at a cross-road coming through the track; we were all walking together at the time;  when he (the prisoner) was five or six yards from the railroad track; he told my brother, (the deceased) “go back”, three times; the deceased was about ten yards from the prisoner when he said the first “go back”-; the second time :he said “go hack” he was about four yards :from him; deceased answered: . I will go back: “the prisoner then rose the gun  fired, and shot him dead; I was close to him and heard the report; I then ran towards the prisoner to try and catch his gun ; be rose the gun and struck with the barrel on the arm; he then rose the gun to strike me a second time, at the same time saying: “G-d d-m you, you will never hang me”; the gun shown me is the same as he had, but cannot swear if it was ; I then ran away. The deceased did not provoke the prisoner on that day; I have stated all the deceased said and did on that day: the persons present at the shooting were William Landers, Terrance McLaughlin, and the children; after he struck me I ran away, he following me with the gun in his hand; he followed me for about four acres; he stopped then, and I stopped,  and he did something with the gun,  I thought he was loading the gun; when he had it fixed he ran after me as hard as he could; after running away we met Larry Connors near his house; I then went to John Griffin’s; after that I went Landrigan’s and got a wagon; then we went and got the body; the body was where it fell when we arrived, which was laying on his side dead; we then took the body to my father’s.

I was present at the inquest, which was held at my father’s house on the 26th of August; I saw a doctor from town on that day; I knew the body on which the inquest was held.

Cross-examined by Mr. O’Farrell.- Have you told all that happened on that day?

Answer.- As near as I can recollect.

Question.- Did you go up in a vehicle with a school mistress?

Answer.- Yes.

Question.- When the school mistress got out of the wagon did your brother get in ?

Answer.- Yes, the children got into the wagon also.

Question.- Were there not crops growing along the railroad?

Answer.- Yes, and a meadow.

Question-Is there any fences along the railway between Farrell’s property?

Answer.- Yes, there was a fence across the track.

(Part Not visible)

Mr. O’Farrell showed his plan to the witness , who answered, “I don’t understand your map.” My brother, the deceased’s farm is about two acres from the railroad; there is a road running on one side of the railroad to St. Catherines, and one on the other side to Valcartier. Mr. O’Farrell asked several questions about the roads and the way they met.

About eight months before the day or the murder, the prisoner and deceased had an argument at a meeting, but did not quarrel ; they had some angry words but nothing further. I was present at the meeting myself; the argument was about some papers Farrell wanted deceased to sign about some money to pay  for the school; they gave each other the Lie, but did not challenge to fight; deceased end myself were walking side by side and the other two were walking eight yards behind; I rose a stone, but not before he ran after me; that was after he had shot my brother; I am not sure if deceased had a pistol on him on this occasion; when the prisoner ordered the deceased. to go ‘back, he then stood; that was the first time he was told, but on the second occasion that he was to go back, the prisoner did not give him time ,as he then shot him; my brother was: about four feet from the muzzle of the gun and the prisoner fired.

A. G. Belleau, Coroner of the District of Quebec, sworn; I saw the deposition of the last witness, which 1s. now shown;

I saw it signed,! the deposition is read to the Court. Cross examination continued by ~. O’Farrell.

Question,- Do you see any essential,

(part not visible)

witness ( continuing) When he was running after me I threw a stone at the prisoner, as I was afraid he would strike me with the gun and kill me ; I was running     towards home along the railway track; I don’t know the size of the stones laying around as I did not measure them; they are about the size of my fist; I swore before the coroner that after the prisoner said “GO back, go back” he immediately raised his gun and fired; the stone that I fired at, the prisoner, I don’t know the exact place where I picked it up , I got it on the track.; I picked the stone up when  going down as I was afraid of Farrell.

Cross examined by Mr. Dunbar,- the fence which crossed the track was made of two pieces of wood, stuck in the ground  and tied with gad (as we call it ) and three fence rails running across; the deceased had noting in his hand but a white handkerchief, the reason I picked up a stone was because I was afraid Farrell would kill me; the stone was in in my pocket at the time; I never had a quarrel with the prisoner; I am positive that Farrell, he said “Go back, go back no words” passed between my brother and the prisoner before that; we were getting along peaceably (part not visible)

We were going to visit my grandfather’s; met Prisoner in the morning on the road; a good piece from our house. we met prisoner in the morning, when he said “Why we were walking on his land, my father said that he had as much right to walk as he said, prisoner called father a name and asked who could he fight, and said if he came there again he would not go back the sane; we were in a cart; I was in the cart with Uncle and brother, father was Walking; I don’t remember if my cousin was with us; we then went to grandfather’s ; we started to go home about four o’clock with papa; when nearing Farrell’s house saw him with a gun; papa looked to see what Farrell was running for; he then sent us to Connors, papa then cane with uncle William Landers and Terrence McLaughlin; we then walked along the tract where we met Farrell, who said “Go back, go back”, then he fired Papa falling dead.

Reverend Father Leclaire swore;- I am the Parish priest of St. Anthanaise; l am living in that Parish for two years and held  my services in the       house of deceased, ( plan shown him) the plan now shown me is sufficient to show the locality where  the deed was done; I remember the 25th last and never will forget     it; on that day I left the presbytery and went to the house of deceased as usual ; when Michael McLaughlin came in I was speaking to  the wife of the deceased. he mentioned the shooting       but said that Frank was badly hurt  not wishing to say he was dead, as it might kill     the wife of the deceased.

he then called me outside and told me he was dead, I told the wife of          the deceased that I would go over to him and give her news of him.        she answered that she felt strong enough to go over herself and that with medical assistance from Quebec she would try and bring him to; the stars were then shining and we had lots of light; we then went to the house of the deceased’s father; on entering the house Mrs. Conway saw the body of her husband and threw herself on the body almost frantic; I had the body removed from the floor where it was lying, and had his face washed, Which was full of blood. It was then put on a bed; was present when inquest took place the day after the murder .

For the defense the prisoner’s advocate succeeded to discredit some portion of the evidence for the crown but not that portion which related to the shooting. In summoning up Mr. O’Farrell ably addressed the jury in both languages for about an hour followed by Mr. Dunbar, K.C. for the prosecution. Judge Monk then addressed the jury stating that they

( the Judges had rather an unpleasant duty to perform)  but would

nevertheless have to perform it ) .

It was in this strain:~

            Gentlemen of the Jury ; – The prisoner stands charged with murder and there is no doubt of it being murder as it is a very clear case very clear case. He charged the  Jury very strongly against the prisoner, saying during his remarks that the case was clearly proved that  he prisoner at the bar went out in the morning and threatened the deceased four or five hours before the murder and that the prisoner had no right to forbid the deceased from walking on the track as it was a public highway.    

After the morning at which he used the threats he saw the deceased again going along the highway, when he gazes and meets him saying to the deceased; “Go back, go back” he did not even give him time to turn around, when the prisoner deliberately raised the rifle and killed the deceased.

(Part not visible)

The Court reviewed a large amount of evidence by the witnesses, and said that there was an attempt made to try and show that the deceased had a pistol in his possession at the time of the fatal meeting. He argued that there was no evidence to prove that the deceased had a pistol; Mr. Monk’s impression was that the deceased had no pistol. It was proven that the deceased’s brother had a stone in his pocket, but is it any wonder when he thought his brother, the deceased, was in peril.

After the deceased was removed to the residence of his father his clothes were searched and no pistil was found amongst them; the case has been clearly proven against Farrell; all the witnesses concurred with each other in the evidence, the prisoner himself admitted having shot the deceased and merely that the deceased had brought it on himself” .

The learned Judge went on to say that the prisoner was guilty of the crime as he stood charged with and was guilty of pre­meditated murder. He then stated that the defense had proven as much against the  prisoner as the Crown witnesses.

The Judge then read the law to the jury of the different degrees of murder and said that the verdict was in their hands , but according to the evidence it was a clear case of murder. Judge Monk wound up his address charging strongly against the prisoner at the bar. He said it was a murder of the highest degree and told the jury when they retired to deliberate well on the evidence and to act without partiality. At the conclusion, Judge Monk seemed somewhat effected. The jury retired at one o’clock and returned at two p.m.


Farrell found “guilty of murder.”

The jury having answered to their names, the Clerk of the Crown put the usual question-‘Gentlemen of the Jury, are you agreed upon your verdict, and who shall speak for you? Is the prisoner at the bar, Michael Farrell, guilty or not guilty of the felony whereof  he  stands indicted?  One or the jurors, in an undertone pronounced the single Word


and immediately every eye in the Court was fixed upon on the :prisoner. The Verdict was registered in the formal manner, the clerk repeating it to the  jury in the usual form, and each of the twelve jurymen slightly inclining his head in affirmation of the same.  At this moment a sound broke the general quietness of the Court-room, followed by loud and violent sobbing as of someone in distress. some one in distress. It did not proceed from the prisoner.

It was a female  voice and the agonizing cry proceeded from Mrs. Farrell, the wife of the prisoner” who had obtained admittance into the Court and taken a seat in the background where she was concealed from view by the spectators standing in front of her, and whose over strung feelings, sustained throughout the trial and even through the severe charge delivered by the Court to the jury had completely given way When she realized that there was no more ground for hope. The unhappy woman was spared the Pain of hearing the death sentence pronounced on  her husband by being removed  from the room.

The prisoner was called upon to say why the sentence of the  law should not be pronounced upon him.

A few moments of perfect silence followed, and the prisoner then addressed the Court, making the following:-


and attempted justification of the awful deed. He said:- “That men had liberty as well as any other to Pass by that “road, as long as he fastened up the gag after him. I met him on that day and told him to put it up, but he would “not do it . If he had put up the fence after him he would “have been alive to-day. He told me that day , when I spoke to him about it , that “he would throw it into the ditch and me along with it  “I can prove that he challenged me first to fight, and was willing to accept his challenge if he got two strange men with us, but he always had a crowd  with him to back him. He threatened me  in the school-house and swore “by J—- C—– he’d smash my face. I wanted to bind him over to keep the peace, and made a deposition at “Lake St. Joseph before a magistrate, which is still there and will prove these facts” .


was then pronounced upon the prisoner .

His Honor Mr. Justice Monk, who had donned the customary black hat, thus addressed. the prisoner. “Michael Farrell, you have been charged before the Court  and Society with the greatest crime to be found in the annals of crime committed. You have been charged with premeditated murder.  You have had your trial, a fair, and impartial one where evidence adduced “not only against you but in your favor has been submitted to the jury. The case against you, prisoner, is sustained by evidence which leaves no alternative for a Court, but to perform the painful duty which the law requires of it. I cannot imagine how a man of your position and intelligence could possibly have conceived and carried out so terrible a crime .

I will not recall to your recollection the horrible, sanguinary scene which took place  when you slew your victim in the presence of his little children, and his friends, and slew him as you did without any provocation. At all events if there existed any provocation not disclosed by the evidence you cannot now advance it here, before this tribunal, but if the


who, alone, can penetrate all secrets, can see anything in your crime unknown to the Court and the Jury, if there are any extenuating circumstances in the eyes of God in this dark crime” you will profit from such, not here but hereafter. I would merely remind you that this sanguinary drama has been crowded by your own admission and that in the verdict of the Jury the court entirely concurs. You precipitated one, (we cannot call him your friend, but your neighbor, to eternity, without a moment’s notice. There is but one duty for this court to perform and that is to pronounce the sentence of the Law. It is right to say that you cannot expect the slightest mercy. On earth you can look on no mitigation of your sentence. You must prepare for your doom, for there is no hope for you on this side of the grave­. You should avail yourself of all the means of repentance at your disposal, for there is no doubt that true contrition may always be awarded with salvation. The process may at first be difficult but spiritual assistance will be given you. Nothing now remains but for the Court to pronounce sentence upon you, which is,-

“That you” Michael Farrell, be taken from hence to the “common goal, and there, within its precincts on Friday,. “the l0th of January next, you be hanged according to the Provisions of the law, by the neck, until you are dead, and may the God Almighty have mercy upon your “soul!”

The learned was very much effected while addressing the most impressive charge to the prisoner and while passing sentence upon the unfortunate man who stood in the dock before him.

The utmost solemnity pervaded throughout the Court during the last public scene of the sad drama, and it was not strange that many appeared effected by the grave and serious nature of the proceedings.

After the sentence of death had been passed the Court, which was crammed, became almost deserted.

Since the day of the sentence, Mrs. lost no time in bringing the matter before the authorities for a commutation of the sentence. In the intervene there was a change of Governors and Government, and perhaps the general elections in a great measure interfered materially with her prospects for success. On reaching Ottawa she was unsuccessful. On returning, she tried the citizens and secured the aid of Councillor Convey and the  Municipal Council.

A petition was forwarded as a last resort, but it was rejected on Wednesday last. Following this a meeting of citizens was held on Durham Terrace and resolutions of clemency carried and telegraphed to the Governor General. Mrs. Farrell, in tho meantime, visited her husband almost daily in his cell. The priest of St. Bridget’s Asylum, Reverend Father Winn visited him constantly since his committal, as well as the Nuns of the Good Shepherd.

.From the trial up to a few days ago Farrell felt somewhat  convinced that he would get his sentence commuted to penitentiary for life; but, as the unfortunate day approached, he began to show signs of weakness. He ate heartfully enough but felt dreadfully nervous when handling his knife and fork. On entering the jail he weighed about 230 Pounds, but got reduced to 200. He was of a strong muscular build and was seldom known to be sick. on Thursday last one of our reporters, in company with Councilor Convey and Mrs. Farrell visited him in his cell. It was two o’clock.. His eldest son a boy of 19, and his youngest son, a lad of four years of age, were at his side. In conversation, he spoke of his unfortunate position, and seamed to be moved greatly by our presence. He said that if the times had been good he would have sold his farm last spring and removed to the United states or Manitoba. At this stage of the interview his wife broke down and wept like a child. The melancholy meeting was a painful one to witness and we withdrew. On leaving the cell Farrell called councilor Convey back in order to impress upon his mind the fact that the taking down of the gap, so frequently talked of, had been the means by which he had his crops damaged by cattle. Whenever the gap was taken down, the parties seldom put it up again. He declared that he was annoyed purposely in this affair on that evening, Tuesday, Farrell slept about six hours. He prayed several times during the night. On Wednesday he rose early, and told several or the inmates that he felt nervous. He was shortly after daylight removed to the condemned cell equally as comfortable as the one he was in, but nearer the sentries.


He felt loth to remove to the room he had been in since his sentence, but did not object to the rules of the jail. On  reaching the new cell he expressed himself in feeling words to one of the guards. Said he “I’m afraid this removal is a sure sign or my end” . But 1n saying so he quickly changed the subject and spoke about the weather and his children.


After partaking of a light breakfast he was visited by his spiritual adviser, who remained with him during the greater portion or the morning . At noon he was visited by his wife and one or his children, who remained with him for some time. At about six o’clock, word reached the condemned man that the law would have to take it’s course . He felt much moved and showed great signs of breaking down. During the night he slept about six hours and rose early.


During the whole day he was kept up by the presence of his wife and children, who prayed with him and talked over spiritual matters.


When the melancholy news came, she mew she must bid adieu to her husband. It was a pitiful sight. Farrell had just sat at a table in his ward to partake or a cup of tea, when his wife rushed frantically to his side, and throwing  her arms around his neck. clung to him as if he were yet her own. Her children wept, and in this state, they were assisted away, after a great deal or heart-rendering scenes. Farrell bore up with the parting with great courage, but on seeing his wife and children take leave of him never again to meet on this earth, he broke down and sobbed bitterly.


At day break, Farrell awoke, after having slept a few hours , and remained closeted with his spiritual advisers. He felt nervous , but resigned to his fate. At seven o’clock, the black flag was hoisted on the pavillion erected on the roof of the jail. The sheriff was present and issued his orders that the spectators, without exception, would not be allowed to remain in the passage of the jail, through which the prisoner would have to walk from his cell to the gallows, built up in the yard. No one but the clergy remained in the jail, so that the terrible spectacle of hanging this unfortunate man, was as much as possible, screened from the naked eyes of an eager crowd of spectators. In the yard, all that the sight-seers  could view, was the upper portion of the gallows, that part below the trap being boarded.  It was a simple structure, but an ugly thing to gaze upon .


At the hour of eight o’clock, Which is the time appointed by law, the hangman made his appearance. He was short and slender, but in such disguise as. to be undiscernible. However, we were told that be was not the man who hung Costafrolaz, but one of his kin from the Quebec jail. We give this for what it is worth, but this much we will say that he showed signs of being a hardened wretch.


Sheriff Alleyn looked pale and trembling over the sad scenes which presented themselves. No one seemed to take it to heart more than this officer of the Crown. The Jailor himself could hardly move about, without showing symptoms of sorrow over the melancholy affair .

It was the first execution and he hoped it would be the last. The guardians looked despondent there went about the corridors in a careworn spirit. In the yard there were about  two hundred spectators, including doctors, students, lawyers, reporters, shop-keepers and workmen.  What they wanted there was hard to conceive. Said a reporter to one of the spectators present: If I were sure that Farrell would not address the assemblage from the scaffold, I would certainly not be here       to witness so awful a sight as the hanging of a human being like myself”. The high stone wall built up around the yard, kept the crowd from gaping in, including, unfortunately, the presence of a few women.

The hangman , walked first upon the platform and placed the rope in its proper place,  and after giving the Whole structure a thorough inspection, he returned to the prisoner’s cell and reported that everything was in readiness .

F A R R E LL walks to the S C A F F O L D .

His elbows and his arms pinioned Farrell commenced his last walk. At each side of him were his spiritual advisers.

On stepping upon the platform of the scaffold, Farrell bid those around him Good-bye, and afterwards walked upon the trap of the gallows. He looked firm and showed no emotion whatever of weakness. He knelt down with his spiritual advisers in silent prayer. The audience also joined in it. On rising to his feet again, the hangman approached and after pinioning his feet he adjusted the rope in a most awkward manner. So clumsily was it done that people in the audience felt disposed to remonstrate with the executioner. After this was effected, Farrell bid adieu to his spiritual advisers, and with the pulling of the bolt he was no more.

He met death bravely. On dropping through the trap the rope caught in his arm and broke the fall, which scene was painful to witness . The hangman ran out and disentangled the rope,  but the noose by this time got misplaced. Farrell died in great agony through the clumsy hangman.  The spectators felt like hanging the hangman . The body was not cut down until about twenty minutes afterwards. It presented a ghastly appearance, on account of the head, which was bent. over from the improper fixing of the rope . Farrell made no speech.


During the fixing of the rope on the doomed man’s neck, several spectators had to turn their faces from the spectacle. Farrell kept looking at his spiritual advisers and continued so until he dropped through the trap. One young man in the crowd fainted and had to be carried away, while others looked ghastly pale .


The body was cut down and the usual customary inquest held in such cases. Dr. Robitaille made the post mortem examination.

Application ————-to the Government of Quebec

—.—————-family of deceased, the body was ——–­­

over to them and interred in St. Patrick’s Cemetery .


Deceased was fond of his wife and children and seemed to be greatly troubled almost to the last moment over their future. Born and married in Saint Catharines, he took a deep interest in matters there. He worked early and late on his farm to earn a living for his large family, but he was unfortunate in life. About 15 years ago he stood his tria1 for the murder of a man named Maher . He was acquitted by the jury on the grounds that he killed the man in self-defense. This affair, which cost him a good deal of anxiety and money in lawyers fees and witnesses, had a damaging effect before the Court and the Privy Council in his late trial and request for commutation. Both the prisoner and the deceased Conway were strong and warm supporters of the Liberal party. Dr. St. George, M.P. as well as his successor went to Ottawa in December on behalf of Farrell, but no hope was held out to them.


At eight o’clock a Solemn Requiem Mass was celebrated for Michael Farrell in all the Catholic churches of the City. The sacred edifices were crowded with people. The ceremony was impressive, the utmost silence prevailed throughout the services all present being very devout in their worship.


The body or Farrell was allowed to hang for twenty-five minutes, after which time it was cut down and an inquest held. From the evidence of the doctors, a verdict of strangulation was rendered. After the body was placed in the coffin the face of the deceased appeared as if it had sustained much suffering, and the neck where the rope was tied being of a blackish hue.


Some of the spectators heard Farrell, when he was suspended on the rope, moan “Oh my God!” It is likely that he died in agony caused by the clumsy way the rope was affixed. Farrel in his life time refused to have his photo­graph taken, but he was hardly cold when a photographer attempted to take a picture of the body. The friends of deceased ought to intercede for the departed, and prevent such photographs from being sold in our streets.

The JAIL and the PRESS.

We cannot say that the authorities of the jail have much love for press-men. We noticed, during our presence there , that the press received less notice than the photographer, Who managed to get his apparatus hauled through the corridor to the yard., where he intended to take a photograph of the dead man suspended on the rope, but fortunately he was prevented by a young Englishman, who looked upon the whole proceeding as a very indecent act. At the entrance the Editor and representatives of “La Canadien” were ejected, notwithstanding that they had letters of admission from the Sheriff.

——~The End.———–

Newspaper account

Quebec March 30th 1861

Transcribed by Gerald Neville

A fatal AFFRAY occurred just half a century ago on the highway near St Catherines in the adjoining parish of Portneuf.  The victim being a farmer of that place  named David Maher, who was killed by a neighbour while on his way home from Quebec. Michael Farrel who hacked his victim to death with an axe was also on his way home from Quebec when the fatal affray occurred , and claimed to have acted in self-defence.  On the day following the fatal affair Farrel came to town to consult a lawyer and while in the city was arrested by deputy Chief of police Bureau He was taken out to St Catherines the following day for the inquest which was held by the coroner of the district and Dr. Freemont made the autopsy of the body and declared that the cuts with the axe, one of which severed the liver had caused death. After hearing the evidence of a number of witnesses the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against Farell who was conveyed back to jail in Quebec, to await his trail. Mr. M. a. Hearn defended the accused.

District of Quebec

In the Matter of Michael Farrell

Solemn Declaration of John Q’Farrell Advocate


Province of Quebec In the matter of District of Quebec Michael Farrell

Convicted of Murder

I, John Q’Farrell, of the City of Quebec, Advocate, do solemnly declare, as follows:

I was retained by the accused to defend him, on the charge of murder of the late Francis Conway. I had previously defended him, on the charge of murder of David Meagher, and I succeeded, on the trial, by the evidence of David Meagher’s father, that his son David and he had previously threatened to kill Michael Farrell, and that the father and son had passed by, on the main road from town, their own by-road that led to their house, and were in advance of Farrell, whose by-road turned off a mile beyond theirs, and that the scene of the death of David Meagher was on Farrell’s by-road. Upon that evidence, the Jury, in Meagher’s case, adopted the view, as stated to me by my client, and by me developed before the Jury, that the two Meaghers had waylaid him, and that he had been acting in self-defense.

When I became entrusted with his defence in the case of Francis Conway, soon discovered that some occult influence was at work in obtaining newspaper articles exciting prejudice against my client; the “Montreal Witness” published a correspondence charging my client with having been one of the two murderers of one Davis, and of having shown a disposition to murder and rob the correspondent (who stated he was paymaster on the Gosford Railway Line) of sixteen hundred dollars which the correspondent was known to have upon his person; apart from the bitter articles published here against Farrell editorially by the “Chronicle Telegraph” and “Mercury”, from time to time correspondence was published against him in those papers; and a month after the death of Conway, the Municipal Council of the Parish of Ste. Catherine’s passed resolutions of condolence with Conway’s family, and praising him as a respectable, quiet and unoffensive man; the publication of those resolutions was delayed purposely, I believe, and produced by the Chronicle, a week only before the trial, with the view, I verily believe, .of prejudicing the public mind against Farrell.

The newspaper articles and correspondence so published had so thoroughly embittered the public mind here against Farrell, that I deemed it my duty to address to the Court an application for a change of venue to the District of Arthabaska, the nearest District to Quebec, where he could obtain a mixed Jury; I supported that application with my own affidavit that, under the circumstances, I verily believed he could not obtain a fair

trial in this District. In the argument, I referred to a case of murder, and one of wounding with intent to murder, wherein the Honorable Mr. Justice Taschereau, since raised to the Supreme Court, had changed the venue from Kamouraska to Quebec. But the Court rejected my application on the grounds that the prejudice against my client was a prejudice which would follow him everywhere, the natural prejudice arising from the perpetuation of a cold ­blooded murder. Notwithstanding the decision of the Court in the case of Farrell, I am satisfied that no sort of prejudice would have followed him thither, and that it was but a local prejudice, not extending beyond this District, and unlike the political prejudice arising from a general election, which exists everywhere. If there was reason for the change of venue in the two Kamouraska cases, this was, I am satisfied, a ten-fold reason for such change of venue in Farrell’s case.

In support of my application for a change of venue, I established clearly that the cousin of Frank Conway and one Dooley had been accused of the murder of Davis, and that this cousin of Conway had, a year after the accusation against him, accidentally shot himself dead going out of his own door, and that he, the late Francis Conway, was a most quarrelsome and powerful man, being called “Big Frank. II

After the refusal of the change of venue, I noticed the two brothers of the late Francis Conway, and an uncle and other relations of the late David Meagher mixing with the Jurors, who afterwards tried the accused; and I suspected that the Jurors were being tampered with to the prejudice of my client, but I have no personal knowledge of it.

At the trial, for the Defence, I offered a witness, by whom I was prepared to prove the deceased was in the habit of carrying a revolver; but the Court rejected the evidence. I also offered to prove by several witnesses whom I tendered, among others Henry Crawford, a Magistrate of Valcartier, that the deceased had made numerous attacks on them; but the Court rejected all evidence of the violent character of the deceased. I verily believe that on the occasion of the late Francis Conway’s death, he was armed with a revolver, loaded with powder and bullets, and that the two men, who accompanied him, his brother Maurice Conway, and William Landers, had their pockets loaded with stones, as missiles. I was not able to prove this fact clearly, because the witnesses were all adverse to my client, and only the relations of the deceased were present at the removing of the body. But all the following facts, proved, out of the mouths of adverse witnesses, raise a very strong presumption of that fact; the daughter of the deceased established that the deceased was returning along the track with her little brother and herself, when he saw the accused, op the edge of the bush, some distance from the track with a gun in his hand, and that the deceased then turned back with them. Maurice Conway, William Landers and young McLaughlin prove that the deceased informed them that he had seen Farrell and asked them to accompany him, on his way back, and that they did accompany him back; that, when they were about five acres below the crossing where Conway met his death, he drew the attention of his companions to the accused, who was then on the edge of the bush, and running towards the crossing with a gun in his hand, and that they persisted in continuing their way; that one of the Conways (the witness, young McLaughlin could not say which) at that point, five acres below the crossing said: “If he kills one of us, the other two must kill him.”

I had in Court a witness, Thomas Landers, son of John Landers, who had a conversation with the deceased, before he returned up the Gosford Railway track, with Maurice Conway, Landers and McLaughlin, and who had advised the deceased not to go back, by the Gosford Railway track, telling the deceased that, in his (the deceased) place he, the witness, would not go back; but that the deceased rejected that warning and declared his determination to return, with his friends by the track; that fact was proved at the trial. But another fact which the same Thomas Landers, son of John, was in a position to testify, is that Malachy Landrigan, who was present at the warning given by Landers to the deceased, followed the deceased some distance, and had a private conversation with the deceased; and that on Landrigan’s return to where he had left Landers, he, Landrigan told Landers that “Conway wasn’t a bit afraid, as he had about him that which would protect him.” I was not able to prove that Malachy Landrigan reported to Landers as having been told by deceased that he had the means of defense about him, because Malachy Landrigan, when examined by me, as a witness, denied it, but I have no doubt from what I saw of the behavior of Landrigan, when I summoned him as a witness, that Landers told the truth and that the deceased in that interview, informed Landrigan, that he had a loaded revolver on his person. The incident’s of Landrigan’s conduct are that, when summoned by the Bailiff, as I am informed by the Bailiff, he manifested great agitation and stated he would not attend; Landrigan did not attend as readily as the other witnesses; and when he came late into Court, in the afternoon, he asked me to dispense with his attendance, saying he knew nothing about the case; while speaking to me, he trembled as if he had the “ague”, and I became convinced he knew a great deal more that he was willing to tell, and that his agitation had its source in the dread he had of the vengeance from the Conways and Meaghers of the parish. I ordered him to stay with the other witnesses; the case having been postponed, Landrigan, with the other witnesses from both sides, was called and ordered by the court to appear on the next day, without further service of subpoena, instead of obeying the order of the Court for his reappearance he was absent the next day and I had to secure his attendance by Bench Warrant, on the subsequent day. When I asked him, on his oath, if the deceased had said anything particular to him, when he had followed the deceased up the road, he bowed down his head, and after some very visible hesitation, and with a great apparent effort, Landrigan said the deceased had said nothing particular to him.

It is a well-known fact that the Meaghers and the Conways form a very wealthy, extensive, and turbulent connection, whose anger is not safe to incur.

I am also personally aware that a degraged inebriate whose name I desire to supress by reason of his respectable connections has been regularly subsidized to write the “Witness” correspondence, several small squibs in the local papers, and a correspondence of a few days ago, in the “Chronicle” against any indulgence whatever to Farrell; I do not know who paid him for exciting this prejudice against Farrell from the very beginning; but I have his own base avowal, in the presence of Thomas Gilcher of Quebec, Esquire, Justice of the Peace, that he had been paid by somebody, and I cannot but believe that the money of the Conways has had the desired effect.

It appeared plainly, on the trial, that my client, who is a very irritable man, has been for years annoyed by inroads of strange cattle into his crops, finding their way along the Gosford Railway track, and that the Conways have been, in the constant habit of using that track, as a highway, to go to their own lands, and have been also in the constant habit of taking down a fence put up by the accused to keep the cattle from destroying the crops of the accused; and that on the very morning of the death of Conway, the deceased and his brother, Maurice, had passed through the fence, with a horse and cart, and left it down behind them.

I also verily believe that, if the venue had been changed to another District, that the only verdict that would have been rendered is that of manslaughter, I urged upon the Jury.

I also verily believe,that, if the accused be reprieved for two months, I shall be able to establish that the deceased had a loaded pistol on his person, and that the two Conways and Landers had made up their minds, at the risk of losing of life by one of them, to take the life of Farrell.

And I make this solemn Declaration, conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the Act passed in the thirty seventh year of Her Majesty’s Reign, chapter thirty-seven, intituled “An Act for the Suppression of Voluntary Oaths.”

And I have signed

Declared before me

at Quebec, this 3 January 1879

J. O’Farrell

Sheriffs Office

Quebec 20 January 1879


I have the honor to report, that on the 10th of this month Michael Farrell was executed in my presence, in virtue of the sentence of death passed upon him the 5th day of November last by the Court of Queen’s Bench their sitting at the City of Quebec.

I enclose herewith the Inquest held on the body of the said Michael Farrell, the Certificate of the gaol physician, copy of report in Council regarding place of interment and Certificate of such interment.

I have the honorable Sir C. Alleyn Sheriff

E. Langevin Esq. Asst. Secy of State Ottawa

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I hereby certify that by order of the Gaoler, I, the undersigned, accompanied by Guards Bannan and Staton, attended the interment of Convict Michael Farrell at the Cholera Burying ground and saw his body buried in said Burying grounds on this (l0th) Tenth Day of January 1879 in pursuant to order of the Government.


10 January 1879

R. Mulholland Assist. Keeper

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Material from National Archives on Case of Michael Farrell

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I, Malachy Landrigan, do hereby solemnly declare that I knew John Farrell, brother of Michael Farrell, now under sentence of death, for the murder of Francis Conway, to be insane, and subject at times to violent fits for several years previous to his death, and do believe his brother now under sentence, when excited, or in passion, to be subject to insanity.

Malachy Landrigan

Mayor of Ste. Catherine

The above declaration was made in my presence, at Ste. Catherine, this l3th day of November 1878.

Patrick White

J.P. for

the District of Quebec

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Personally, came and appeared before me the undersigned one of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, for the District of Quebec, Denis Clear and William Clear, who made oath as follows:

We are near neighbours of Michael Farrell, now under sentence of death, for the murder of Francis Conway, we also knew his brother the late John Farrell, whom we believed to be insane, sometimes quite mad for many years before his death. We were sent for on many occasions to aid in preventing him from committing acts of violence on members of the family, on one occasion we found him quite naked chasing his mother round the stove, she having a piece of rope in her hand, endeavoring to beat him off. He had to be tied on one occasion to prevent him of committing an act of violence on the family.

Denis Clear William Clear

Sworn before me at Ste. Catherine, the l3th day of November 1878.

Patrick White J.P.

Gerry Neville (File Farrell)

December 27, 1878

To Her Royal Highness

Princess Louise Caroline Alberta Marchioness of Lorne

May it please your Royal Highness.

Mary Farrell, humbly begs leave to approach Your Royal Highness, to lay at your feet, her Petition for mercy to her husband Michael Farrell, now under sentence of death in the Jail of Quebec. In her anguish she throws herself at the feet of Your Royal Highness, and tearfully implores Your Gracious Intercession, with the Most Noble The Marquis of Lorne, for his favorable consideration of the Petition, for His Executive Clemency, now before Him.

She prays Your Royal Highness, to forgive the boldness, begotten of her deep distress, which prompts her to approach Your Gracious Person, under the present circumstances, and she hopefully addresses her present supplication, and that of her helpless little children to Your Royal Highness; as to one upon whose kindly ear, the cry of the poor and the distressed, has never yet fallen in vain.

Mary Farrell

To His Excellency the Right Honorable, the Marquis of Lorne, Governor General of the Dominion of Canada

The Petition of the Corporation of the

City of Quebec, in Common Council Assembled;

Humbly Shewette:

That, Michael Farrell, of the parish of Ste. Catherine of Fossambault, in the County of Portneuf, in the District of Quebec, is now incarcerated in the common gaol of this District, under sentence of death, and his execution is fixed for the 10th January next (1879).

That, the said Michael Farrell has a wife and ten children.

That, in the interest of mercy and humanity, your Petitioners desire and hope for a mitigation of the prisoner’s sentence.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Excellency will be pleased to extend the Royal Mercy towards the unfortunate convict, Michael Farrell, and commute the sentence of death to imprisonment for life, and your Petitioners, as is duty bound, will ever pray.

City Hall

Quebec 31 December 1878

V. Chambers Mayor of Quebec


Province of Quebec District of Quebec

In the matter of Michael Farrell Convicted of Murder.

I, Thomas Gilcher, of the City of Quebec, Justice of the Peace, do solemnly declare, as follows:

I was present, on New Year’s Day, when a person named Thomas Oliver, admitted in a conversation with Mr. O’Farrell, who defended Michael Farrell, that he, Thomas Oliver, had written correspondence that appeared in the Quebec Morning Chronicle, of the thirty-first December last, signed: “A friend of the deceased,” and containing scurrilous abuse of Michael Farrell. I have initialed the copy of the newspaper, containing that letter; and the copy of the paper is also initialed by the Magistrate who takes this my solemn declaration; in the same conversation, the said Thomas Oliver admitted that he had received two dollars and a half for that letter.

And I make this solemn Declaration, conscientiously believing the same to be true, and by virtue of the Act passed in the thirty-seventh year of Her Majesty’s Reign, chapter thirty-seven, intituled “An Act for the Suppression of Voluntary Oaths.”

Quebec 3rd January 1879

And I have signed T. Gilcher


To: W. Conway, Esq.

& Bradley, Esq. copy to Mrs. Griffin

Department of Justice Ottawa, January 9th l879 Time 4:40


Governor General received your telegram asking for commutation of sentence of Farrell which he handed to me and commanded me to say that “His Excellency has not thought fit to change decision of Judge, Jury and Privy Council as reported to His Excellency by me.”

John A. MacDonald Minister of Justice

Prison de Quebec, le 10 janvier 1879

Je soussigne, medecin de la Prison de Quebec, certifie par ces presentes, que Michael Farrell condamne a mort aux denieres assises du terme criminel, a ete execute aujourd’hui a huit heures quelques minutes du rnatin, et que la cause de la mort du dit Michael Farrell a ete la strangulation.

le 23 janvier 1879

M. Robitaille, M.D. Medecin de la Prison

Depositions of witnesses taken and acknowledged on behalf of our Sovereign Lady the Queen

In the parish of st. Gabriel de Valcartier in the District of Quebec., on the 26th day of August, in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy eight, touching the death of Francis Conway. Jr. before the undersigned, her Majesty’s Coroner for the said District on an inquisition then and there taken on view of the body of Francis Conway. Jr. . then and there lying dead.

Terence McLaughlin, of the parish of St. Catherine in the County of Portneuf aged twenty years, being duly sworn upon the holy Evangelists . doth depose and say;

I know deceased Francis Conway, Jr. he was from  St. Catherines above mentioned.He was a farmer. The body now shown to me in the residence of Francis Conway, in the parish of st. Gabriel of Valcartier, is the body of said Francis Conway, Junior.

Yesterday afternoon, at about one hour before sunset, in the said Parish of St Catherines,  I saw Michael Farrell running out before deceased. The said Michael Farrell had a gun in his hand. I was standing on the Gosford line with deceased’s brother Maurice  Conway. I was standing about four yards from said Michael Farrell. when I saw him raising his gun and fire it at the deceased Francis Conway, junior. When said Michael Farrell so fired his gun at deceased, the muzzle of said gun was not more than four feet from  deceased’s face.

Deceased was standing alone when he was so fired at by said Michael Farrell and the latter. with the exception perhaps of Maurice Conway, was the nearest person to deceased. William Landers, Maurice Conway, and the deceased’s two children, and myself, were the only persons present at the shooting.

It was on the Gosford railway track that the shooting took place that part of said railway track runs through Michael Farrell’s lot in said parish of St Catherines. As Michael Farrell came running, as above stated, I heard him say to deceased ,” Go back, go back” Thereupom deceased answered,” I will go back” but he was shot before having time to do so Immediately after the report of the gun, Michael Farrell so fired , deceased fell on his head without uttering a word. I did not notice deceased giving any provocation to Michael Farrell. I, upon seeing deceased fall, we all ran off.  Farrell following us about three acres. I did not see him since.

When Michael Farrell fired at deceased, the latter’s brother Maurice was struck on the arm by Farrell, who was greatly excited in a horrid passion. The gun so discharged at deceased is a single barrel one.

About one hour before said shooting, deceased came to my father’s place and there told me that he had seen Michael Farrell with a gun and he requested me to accompany so as to have a witness if he was threatened to be shot by Michael Farrell.

William Landers had also been asked to accompany us. We were then a mile and a half from where the shooting took place. Deceased did not tell me his reasons for fearing to be shot at by Farrell. He merely told me the latter wanted to stop him from passing on that road.

Maurice Conway had accompanied  us to protect me, in case I should be attacked or ill-treated by Michael Farrell on my return home.

And hath signed. Terrence McLaughlin.

Sworn at the parish of St Gabriel of Valcartier, this 26th day of August 1878

Before me

                        Alf. Belleau, Coroner

(eleven words erased are null. Six marginal notes approved are good.)