Christopher Southby Harrison aka "the celebrated Christy Southy Harrison" was an infamous 19th-century Roscommon attorney.
In 1822, it was alleged that Christopher Southby Harrison had forged a bill of exchange for £10, which he attempted to pass off on Messrs. Bennett and Roach. A lengthy investigation ensued, which he managed to evade. C.S. Harrison, an Insolvent, applying to have his insolvency petition discharged in 1825. [Dublin Mercantile Advertiser- 18 April 1825 ]
In 1830, at Ennis Sessions, C.S. Harrison, Attorney was convicted and fined 21s for assaulting a car driver [Mayo Constitution - Monday 08 March 1830]
In 1834, Harrison appealed his suspension precluding him from practising as an attorney in the Sessions Court. [Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette - 08 March 1834].
The following month, his young wife died:
DIED April 1834, "at Bogwood, the residence of her father, the wife of the celebrated Christy Southby Harrison, Attorney".
Harrison was residing at Newtown House, Strokestown when he attended the Great Protestant Meeting in Dublin. [Newry Telegraph - 22 August 1834].
The Celebrated Christy S. Harrison was held to bail, on Monday last, to abide his trial at the approaching Quarter Sessions of this town. This is the Second Indictment present against this ... Is he to be "eternally in good luck"? [Roscommon Journal, and Western Impartial Reporter - 12 September 1834]
Christopher Southy Harrison, Attorney, stood indicted, that he on the 8th of last July, against peace and statute, did assault Patrick Hanly, Solicitor in the town of Roscommon.
Mr. Hanly examined—deposed, that on the 8th of last July, the day before the Assizes, he was walking in the streets of Roscommon arm in arm with Thomas Gredin of this town; said he saw Mr. Harrison drive down the street with his wife in a Gig, & that as he passed him, Mr. H. he gave him blow of his whip on the head, and after striking him, that turned back and laughed in his face, he said that hour after at he was walking to the Court House, came driving furiously down, with the express purpose of driving over him, which he would have done were it not for Mr. Gredin who pulled him one-side till his gig passed them; he said he gave no provocation whatever to guarantee the assault, and that though Mr. Harrison accused him of making grimaces at the time, that nothing could be further from his thoughts.
Mr. Harrison here cross-examined Mr. Hanly during which nothing of any particular interest was elicited in contradiction of his direct testimony. Mr. Harrison asserted that he had not his witness present to invalidate Mr. Hanly’s statement, though he said that he could do so if he had not been taken by surprise; he then addressed the Bench and the Jury; he endeavoured to show that he had been persecuted by Mr. Hanly because he had interfered with his practice in the country; he said he had been bred in the Upper Courts: that he was a practising Attorney in the Court of Chancery, and would not have come to this country if he had not been induced to do so by Mrs. Harrison, circumstance which he regretted much; he begged to impress on the Jury, that it was unlikely that he would use any rudeness in his gig, with a delicate young lady beside him, and that he only pointed his whip at Mr. Hanly, to tell him he was a coward. He apologised for the frequent annoyance he had given the court, and at length concluded with solemn protestation of his innocence.
The Jury after a tedious deliberation returned verdict of Guilty. The Barrister said, that he would not pass the sentence till the Boyle Sessions were over, lest it should disappoint any of Mr. Harrison’s clients, and that he would take his word for iris appearance. [Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette - Saturday 04 April 1835 ]
In May 1836, Mr Southby Harrison, an attorney, was held to bail at College-street Police Office, for forging a bill of exchange. [Limerick Chronicle - Wednesday 04 May 1836]
Alleged Forgery.— Counsellor O’Fallon applied at College-street Office to have Mr. C. Southby Harrison, an attorney, held to bail to meet his trial for forging bill for ten pounds. The bill was drawn in 1822, and after a patient investigation into a variety of intricate and uninteresting circumstances, the magistrates said they had no hesitation in receiving bail. [Waterford Chronicle - Saturday 07 May 1836]
ALLEGED FORGERY. Christopher Southby Harrison was indicted for feloniously forging a bill of exchange, and attempting to utter the same with intent to defraud Messrs. Bennett and Roach. Mr. McDonagh said, in absence of a material witness, he could not enter into the case. No evidence having been offered, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. [Dublin Morning Register - Thursday 25 August 1836]
In 1839, he posted an advertisement offering a reward for information on the fatal poisoning of Lewis H. Moreton on Oct 6th. He also set out his claim by marriage deed to one-fourth of the Bogwood estate left to Moreton's daughters. [Roscommon Journal, and Western Impartial Reporter - 23 November 1839]
In 1840, Christopher Southby Harrison appeared on the list of witnesses in Harrison Vs. Naughten, where it was alleged by Thomas Naughton that a Charles Southby Harrison had forged a bond. Richard Harrison (b. 1828) being the then 12-year-old son of the defendant. [Roscommon Journal, and Western Impartial Reporter - Saturday 16 May 1840 ]
In 1841, Christopher was the plaintiff in Harrison Vs Hanley [Dublin Evening Post - 16 January 1841]. He was summoned as a witness in Burke Vs. Irwin in June of that year and arrested for outstanding debts on the same day:
Burke v. Irwin, Mr. O’Hagan moved the court that Christopher Southby Harrison, a witness who had been summoned to give evidence on the part of the defendant Irwin, should be discharged from the custody of the gaoler of Roscommon. The affidavit stated that Mr. Harrison was subpoenaed to give evidence in the cause, and that his attendance was required that honourable court on Monday morning—that lie accordingly left his own house at Newtown Lodge, the county of Roscommon, on Sunday, and proceeded by the canal boat to Dublin, and that his arrival he was informed that the case was number forty in the list, and could not possibly be tried for a week least—that under those circumstances he returned home, and arrived at Roscommon by the canal carriage, where his gig was waiting to receive him to take him directly to his own house, where he was arrested by the Sheriff, under an execution at the suit of Thomas Naughten, for a sum of £73. He humbly hoped the court would discharge him, he being at the time he was arrested uuder*the protection of his lordship’s subpoena. The Chief Baron said that the case was rather a novel one. He apprehended that the protection did not extend as far was contended for. The witness went away before the case was decided at all, and it might as well be said to protect him at his own house until the trial was over. Mr O’Hagan said it was quite common for witnesses to return to their own houses when they found a trial was not to take place for several days, and whether they resided in Roscommon or Dublin, or any other place, they were under the protection of the court until the case was disposed of. The man was on his direct way returning home, and should no more be arrested than when going. The Chief Baron directed notice to served the detaining creditor, and he would hear the application again. [Dublin Morning Register - Friday 18 June 1841]
The following month C.S. Harrison was charged with shooting at Thomas Naughten when he attempted to arrest him. The prosecutor failed to prove Naughton's authority for arrest. [Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette - Saturday 09 July 1842].
Also in 1841, Mr. Egan, attorney, was held to bail, at Henry-street Police office, on the charge of stealing deeds and bonds belonging to Mr. C. S. Harrison, Roscommon. [Mayo Constitution - Tuesday 31 August 1841]
In July 1841, Harrison had his furniture and property seized by Court Order:
INSOLVENT DEBTORS’ COURT— Yesterday. (Before Mr Commissioner Curran). Mr Christopher Southby Harrison said he had an application to make to the court of a pressing nature, and, although it was Lot motion day, he hoped his lordship would hear it. He had an attested copy of an affidavit that had been filed, and which set forth all the facts of the case. It appeared that the month of July, 1841, an armed party, under the colour of an authority from that court, broke into his house in the county Roscommon in his absence, and took away not only his furniture and property of every description, but private papers, civil bill decrees, and other documents belonging to his clients, which were still withheld from him, and by which those clients had suffered great loss and inconvenience. Some of those papers were at present in the hands of a policeman named Blakeney, some in the hands of other parties, and his application was, that these persons should be compelled to give those papers up to the proper owners, they were not all connected with his insolvency. The Commissioners said that the motion was of too complicated a nature to be gone into then, and it should be brought before the court on the regular motion day (Friday). [Dublin Morning Register - 1 December 1842].
In 1842, C. S. Harrison was residing at Newtown Lodge but removed to Cloonyourish near Roscommon town later that year, having bought out a lease to 30 acres of Ormsby property "for three lives or 31 years" from a Mr Hayden who was about to emigrate.
In 1844, he was then subjected to a great cruelty, having expended a large sum in permanent improvements, Ormsby attempted to eject him. The jury ruled in his favour, however, to much astonishment and disgust, the judge directed they find in favour of the landlord. His case was well documented in the Commissioners Report of the State of the Law and Practice in Respect to the Occupation of Land in Ireland.
Limbs of the Law
Mr. Commissioner Farrell has directed that order of suspension recorded against three Attorneys having some practice in the Insolvent Court. The three Attorneys are named Mr. Cornelius Crosbie O’Callaghan of Kanturk; Mr John Martin of Enniskillen; and Mr. Christopher Southby Harrison of Carrick-on-Suir. The first named Attorney—Mr. Cornelius Crosby O’Callaghan, took money from 23 poor men, conduct their cases through the Insolvent Court, but not having done so, he was directed by the Court the last Cork Assizes to bail the men at his own coat. This also he failed do; and the Commissioner has directed his suspension, saying, "It was lamentable think that any man, professing Christianity, with conscience or humanity, could act (the Attorney) had acted, towards the unfortunate 23 men. and leave them in such plight." The poor men are still in Goal, and the Commissioner says that the case will not end here, as he means bring it into another Court. It is question, he adds, if he, Mr. Cornelius Crosbie O'Callaghan, did not receive the money under false pretences.
The second-named Attorney, Mr. John Martin, acted towards his client pretty much in the same way as the first-named. took money—undertook to conduct the cases through the Insolvent Court, but failed to do so, and afterwards sent no sufficient apology. The Commissioner directed an order of suspension against him likewise.
The third-named Attorney. Mr. Charles Harrison acted like the first and second-named—he took money from his clients when in Gaol, and failed to perform his engagement with them—an almost necessary result, as had not, though undertaking their case', taken out license to practise in the Court at all. Against him too the Court recorded the prospective order of suspension, thus immortalizing the precious triumvirate—to all eternity of law. The Commissioner said some merited compliments to the Profession generally, at the expense of the brothers three.” [Limerick and Clare Examiner - Wednesday 26 April 1848]
> ROSCOMMON TOWN
On 07-Nov-1853 Harrison, was residing in Roscommon when he married Mary Jane Ormsby of Emlagh and the couple resided at Woodbine Cottage, Henry Street, Roscommon Town.
Harrison was insolvent and petitioned the Roscommon estate of Christopher Hume Lawder through the Encumbered Estates Court that same year.
John Grehan, an employee of Harrison's, upon enlisting in the 41st Regiment, sought an order for unpaid wages of 4 shillings. When he arrived at Harrison's offices, in the house of Mr Coppins, a pensioner, Harrison pushed him out on the street, dealing him several blows to the head with a heams. [Roscommon Messenger - Saturday 09 September 1854]
Then there was the bizarre case when Harrison attempted to force a neighbour's heifers onto his land, so he could claim trespass damages [Roscommon Journal, and Western Impartial Reporter - Saturday 04 August 1855]
Debt & Insolvency
In 1857 Harrison, still "an insolvent" was this time petitioning the Roscommon estate of James Gunning Nelson Plunkett Esq.
APPEALS FROM THE COURT OF BANKRUPTCY AND INSOLVENCY. In the Matter of Harrison, an Insolvent. This was an appeal from order pronounced by Judge Macan, the 16th June last, the appellant being Mr. Thomas Naughten, a creditor. The sum of £898 13s. 3d. having been realized the assets of Mr. Christopher S. Harrison, the insolvent in this matter, and the same being available towards the payment of his debts, the appellant, who had himself been previously discharged as an insolvent, had, in consequence of there being a debt due to him by CS. Harrison, obtained an order of the 11th of February, 1858, directing a reference to the Chief Clerk, for the purpose of impeaching C. S. Harrison's schedule of debts, and thus increasing the amount of the dividends payable out of the fund in court.
The debt upon which discussion arose was one returned upon the insolvent’s schedule of £2,000 due to his brother, Edward Mills Harrison, which had been stated in a letter written by E. M. Harrison, in the form of an undertaking with his brother as a bond passed for £2,000, the fine for the reversionary interest, after his decease, in certain lands of Emla in Roscommon, in consideration of which sum he agreed to execute a proper legal deed when tendered. This transaction was the year 1839, and previous to the different arrests for debt, which took place in the year 1841. Mr. E. M. Harrison, who was thus stated the creditor of his brother, was afterwards, in the year 1850, committed for debt, and he having died in the gaol of Roscommon, Mr. O'Beime, his assignee, since represented his interest: and thus, between this assignee and the appellant, the sufficiency of the securities for the £2,000, represented as debt due from one estate to the other, became matter of contention. Upon the reference the Chief Clerk, evidence had been gone into, and his report having been in favour of O'Beime, the assignee of E. M. Harrison, the appellant Nanghten had taken his objections. The judge in the court below had, however, confirmed the officer's report. portion of the evidence, besides the bond and judgment for the £2,000, a deed was produced by the insolvent, which was a conveyance of the lands of in the county of Roscommon, from Edward M. Harrison to the insolvent Christopher S. Harrison, dated 7th May, 1840, and alleged to be made in consideration of £2,000. the argument of the case before this court, counsel upon either side referred to the numerous and irreconcilable statements contained in the schedules filed the Messrs. Harrison, far they related to the £2,000, it being submitted on behalf of the appellant that the alleged debt was fictitious, while the existence of the judgment and the deed was relied upon on the other side. The Lord Chancellor stating his opinion to be that the matters relating to the disclosed fraudulent and fictitious a transaction as had ever been presented to a court, he then proceeded to read, out of the alleged conveyance from £. M. Harrison to his brother the solicitor, what might be supposed to deal with mansion and property to thenceforth handed down through the male heirs of this Harrison family, while in truth neither money nor property had passed. Such being the evidence what was question of fact, his lordship added, that even though so much reliance had been placed in the judgment and in the conveyance, yet still things were called their right names, and that in the present case no bone fide creditor ought to be prejudiced or even delayed, or, as counsel had suggested, left his remedy a suit for specific performance. The Lord Justice of Appeal, concurring, likewise added, that he had never met case in which the marks of fraud were so numerous and indelible. After a discussion as to the frame of the order, and the effect of merely remitting the case to the court below, where the decision there was to be reversed, their lordships directed that their order should now declare the securities fraudulent void. Order accordingly. Counsel for the appellant—Messrs. Brewster, Q.C.; Fitzgerald, Q.C.; and Phillips. the other side—Messrs. J. D. Fitzgerald, Q.C., and Heron. This case having concluded the business set down for these sittings, the court adjourned. [Dublin Daily Express - Monday 20 December 1858]
" ... we must say that public opinion is very strong in favour of Logan while it is quite the reverse with regard to the unfortunate Christy Harrison, and all seem delighted that he is "caught at last,’’— Anyone who knows the past life of this legal celebrity must be aware that this is not the first charge that has been brought against him, neither is it, we believe, his first visit to prison as a culprit. It is rumoured that Harrison is about applying to the Court of Queen’s Bench in order that the Judges may exercise their prerogative and admit him to bail. Who would bail him is to us a mystery. [Roscommon Journal - 18 October 1862 ]
Throughout the 1860s, Harrison continued to reside at Woodbine Cottage, Roscommon Town. The following case hints at his age, although it may be that he was about 68 years old at this time.
COUNTY OF ROSCOMMON. Roscommon, March 4 — Christopher Southby Harrison was indicted for having, on the 31st day of August 1862, written a threatening letter to Joseph A. Holmes, Esq. Messrs. Carleton,|Q.C., Morris, Q C., Beytagh, and Jordan prosecuted. Mr Concannon defended the prisoner.
The prisoner, a man about sixty years of age, is very respectably connected, is an attorney, who has for many years practised at the local courts in the county of Roscommon, where has acquired some notoriety by his eccentric ways, and the present prosecution was looked forward to with much interest on account of the prisoner's social and professional position in the county.
Mr Holmes, the gentleman to whom the letter was written, agent over very extensive estates in the counties of Roscommon and Sligo, of which latter county he is a deputy lieutenant; he has a deservedly high reputation for ability, fairness, and liberality in all his dealings with tenants, by whom, is said, he is much beloved.
The following is a copy of the letter referred to:
"Tyrant Holmes—Your doom is fixed. You will meet and that you will meet your fate from the one brave and determined hand where there will be no fear of a government informer. You have got a long day, you detested oppressor. There are four of the Roscommon tyrants who will shortly meet their long-earned deserts. The De Barney prosecution has settled your fate, you tyrant of the devil. Friday, 30th May, 1862." The envelope was addressed— "To Mr Holmes, the tyrant agent, and a match for the devil —Rent-office, Roscommon."
Mr Beytagh stated the case for the prosecution, from which it appeared that the prisoner had an execution against the goods of a person named Gillooly, and when the sheriff seized, Mr Holmes put in the landlord's claim for rent, which swept away the whole of the proceeds. Mr Holmes, at the same time, offered to give the prisoner the sum of £10, which, however, the prisoner refused; but, returning some days after, said he would take it Mr Holmes, however, had in the meantime credited the full amount to the claim of the landlord and therefore was unable to repeat his offer. This so annoyed the prisoner that he became very abusive of Mr Holmes, calling him "Tyrant Holmes," and such like names, and using towards him expressions identical to those contained in the letter... The jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty. [Dublin Evening Mail - Thursday 05 March 1863]
Breaking & Entering
ROSCOMMON PETTY SESSIONS Christopher S. Harrison summoned Thomas Healy of the Four Roads far maliciously breaking his hall door and attempting enter his house in the town of Roscommon on the night of the 14th and morning of the 15th of January last. From the evidence of some very questionable witnesses, amongst whom was complainant's servant maid (a young lady, who, according to Swiney’s opinion, would swear hole through a pot”) appeared that the defendant assailed the complainant's house between the hours of 12 and half-past 2 o’clock on the night of the above date, and called on Mrs Harrison (who was the only person in the house, together with the servant above alluded to—her worthy protector being from home) to let him in was the son of a gentleman,” The lady, however, feared that had some evil intention towards her, which his conversation in no way was calculated to load her to doubt, so she firmly refused him admission til declared his business. This he did in no very complimentary terms, using which would lead strangers to form a very bad opinion of Mr H.’s character, and on her again dealing to comply with his, request bo had recourse to the business-like style of doing things —namely, breaking the door. All this was proved by witnesses, and we are happy to state Healy did succeed.
For the defence, it was alleged that three silver spoons of the defendant's found their way into the home of Mr Harrison by some unaccountable means and that that the owner only called for them, as he was leaving town on the night in question. It was also stated that, by way of showing how the said spoons left the defendant’s house, the complainant stopped there for some time previous to this occurrence. This, of course, their Worships did not believe, and they fined Mr Healy 10s to the Crown, 2s 6d compensation and 10s costs.
Mr Harrison triumphantly boats that if "he" was at home, Healy would keep far away from his "cottage,” and Mr Swiney said if the defendant took his advice he would to the gates of h—l (we really cannot inform our readers where they us situate, never having met them in our travels) before he would go within an acre of the noted Attorney’s residence. So ends the assault and battery on "Woodbine Cottage.’ [Roscommon Journal, and Western Impartial Reporter - Saturday 22 February 1862]
A Secret Child?
GALLANT SOLICITOR. The master submitted the following letter which he received from Christy Harrison, the well-known solicitor:—
"Sir. would be glad to get the child called B. Deflin for the purpose of caring for the child. You can apply the guardians and will comply with any regulations they think proper to adopt,”
This document was the subject of a good deal of comment, and it was the general opinion that the writer had a nearer claim on the child than he chose to let the guardians know. Indeed the following facts will load the public to judge how far Mr Harrison was justified in treating the unfortunate girl as a servant:
—On the 3rd of March 1858, the child was found deserted at the door of the workhouse and no trace could ever be got as to who committed the inhuman act. Being closely interrogated by the Board as to its parents, etc, all the child could utter was the word "Defle",’’ anil hence she was christened "Deflin” and remained in the house ever since. Mr Harrison often inquired of the Master how was going on?” and called several times to see her. He was most anxious to get her out at Easter, and it was generally reported (but there was certain proof; he was her father Although the child was registered as Teresa Deflin her associates in the schoolroom always called her "Teresa Harrison,” which fact was considered rather significant by the Board. After some desultory conversation and no very flattering remarks as to the social position and character of Mr Harrison, the guardians very properly refused to the poor child (now about 12 years old) to leave the workhouse, unless that gentleman came forward and claimed her as her father. [Roscommon Journal, 02 April 1864]
Convicted for Theft
In December 1865, before W. F. Brady, Q.C., chairman of the county Leitrim, Christopher Southby Harrison, Attorney, was convicted for stealing a knife and sentenced to six months imprisonment.
In April 1866, while in prison, it was moved that he be struck off the roll of attorneys at her Majesty's Court of Common Pleas. A conditional order was granted and served upon him. [The Evening Freeman. - Saturday 10 November 1866]
Mr Oliver Irwin JP, who had known Harrison's for 35 years, gave testimony in his friend's favour.
Christopher Harrison, Gentleman Attorney, died at Cartron Digby/ Digelby, Kilgefin on July 1, 1870, age 75 (survived by his wife). The Informant was Robert Harrison of the same address, who was also an attorney.
[Research by Rua Mac Diarmada]