Fonds 74-1001 - Donnelly trial scrapbook

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Donnelly trial scrapbook

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  • Photocopied [ca. 1974] (Creation)

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Custodial history

This photocopy of the scrapbook was in the custody of J. Alex Edmison of Ottawa, Ontario before it was donated to the Trent University Archives.

Scope and content

This item is a photocopy of scrapbook clippings which follow the inquest into the deaths of the "Black Donnellys" in Biddulph Township in early 1880, and clippings from the hearings held thereafter. The dates of the clippings range from February 1880 to March 1880.

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The fonds was donated by Mr. J. Alex Edmison, Ottawa, Ontario.


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Material associated with the Donnelly trial is located at the National Archives of Canada.

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General note


Between the night of February 3 and the morning of February 4, 1880, five members of the Donnelly family were murdered by members of the Vigilance Committee in Biddulph Township, near London, Ontario. The murdered members of the family included James Sr., Judith, Thomas, John and Bridget Donnelly. The specific reason for the murders is still unclear but the underlying factors go back to the settlement of Irish emigrants in Biddulph Township and the successive feuds among the families, secret societies brought from Ireland, and increasing violence and murder. The Donnelly's were blamed for many instances of violence, murder, theft, and arson, both rightfully and wrongfully, and they were disliked and feared by many of the families in the township. Thirteen people were charged with the murder of the Donnelly's. When the case came to trial, the verdict was not guilty and sentences were not given due to the conflicting evidence given during the trial.

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