‘NOT SO WICKED AS TO COMMIT SACRILEGE:’A THEFT AT CHRISTMAS 1721 FROM THE CHAPEL OF ST. NICHOLASWITHOUT, FRANCIS STREET, DUBLIN
By 1720, in spite of the Penal Laws then in force, the Catholic chapel in St FrancisStreet, Dublin, serving St Nicholas Without, the mensal parish of the Catholicarchbishops of Dublin from 1615 to 1733 and again from 1756 to 1797, was a purpose-built and substantial building.
For example, a Dublin newspaper reportedin March 1729 that a controversial regular priest had been recently denounced in‘all the Romish chapels ... especially that great one in Saint Francis Street ...’.
Previously, at Christmas 1721, St Nicholas’s had been the target of a robbery whichled to the hanging of a local man, twenty-one year-old Henry Watts, in St Stephen’sGreen, on 2 November 1723. Watts admitted in his last speech that he was noinnocent, but denied the robbery, insisting that, whatever about theft, he wouldnever have consciously committed sacrilege:I was born in Mass-Lane in St
of poor but honestParents, who tenderly brought me up in the love and fear of God, andgave me as good Education as ever a poor Lad in the Parish could have.But on 28th
1721 I took one
Daughters upfor an Assault, and at the same time the Chapple of St.
wasRobb’d of a Plate Box and Cup, and the said
having Receivedthe said Robbery, said she had that in her pocket wou’d Hang me; andwent and made Oath against me that I was the Person that gave her theabove named Goods; upon which I was Apprehended, and soon after Iwas Try’d and found Guilty for the same; but the Court finding what sortof Persons they were, granted me Transportation, accordingly I wasset on Board, but the Captain finding me Sickly set me on shore again;then I went to Limrick where I followed my trade, which is Weaveing,and by it I got honest Bread; but Mr.
hearing I was there, sentan Order and Committal on me; and there I was try'd for escape, and wasacquitted. Then I came to
in order to take Shipping and go to
, but Seeing one
I call’d to him, brought him in to anAlehouse and spent thirteen pence on him, and then to requite mykindness, he took me Prisoner, and in the scuffel I cut his Cheek, beingthen Committed was lately Try’d and found Guilty, and now must die ina shameful manner tho’ undeserved, for you may be sure (tho’ Wicked2