IRELAND â013 THE EASTER RISING. File of papers of Sir John Sankey (afterwards Lord Chancellor), principally as Chairman of the 'Advisory Committee to Try Sinn Feiners', established after the Easter Rising of April 1916
Lot 331
Sold for £ 1,250 (US$ 1,748) inc. premium

Lot Details
File of papers of Sir John Sankey (afterwards Lord Chancellor), principally as Chairman of the 'Advisory Committee to Try Sinn Feiners', established after the Easter Rising of April 1916; with further papers as presiding judge of the tribunal established for the same purpose in June 1918, in a folder marked "The Hon Mr Justice Sankey/ Sinn Fein", comprising:

(i) Typed abstract of correspondence between the army command and Home Office, headed "Sinn Fein Rebellion./ Headquarters, Irish Command" ("...Home Sec says Prime Minister wishes process of combing out innocents prosecuted with vigour. Home Sec wants those who are to be interned got out of prisons and into camps as soon as possible... June 6 Troup to Byrne. Undesirable to send ladies to Aylesbury to consort with German brothel-keepers..."), 3 pages, 4to, 22 May to 6 June 1916

(ii) Correspondence between Sankey, the Home Secretary, Herbert Samuel, and Mr Justice Pirn, comprising Sankey's office copy of the letter to him from the Home Secretary of 8 June 1916, suggesting that Pirn join the committee (" would be advizable to add to the Committee an Irish Judge, so that it should not be said that Irishmen were being tried by an almost wholly English tribunal...") and raising another question, namely: "a certain number of Civil Servants in Ireland are suspected, presumably on good ground, of connection with the Sinn Fein movement... It is felt that these men ought not to be left as Officers of the various Departments if they are in fact actively disloyal; and, on the other hand, it would not be right to dismiss them... without careful investigation..."); Sankey's retained signed draft of his reply, agreeing to look into civil servants as well; and Sankey's signed retained draft of a long letter to Pirn ("...The persons retained are at present at many centres... but there is an idea of transferring them to an Internment Camp at Bala in North Wales, and it may be necessary for us to sit there, as well as in London and Dublin..."), 10 pages, folio, on official blindstamped paper, folio, 8 and 10 June 1916

(iii) Manuscript note of the powers of the Committee under Defence of the Realm Regulation 14B with a Carbon typescript, headed "Sinn Fein Rebellion. Points to be discussed", 5 pages, 4to, undated [c. June 1916]

(iv) Four typed letters signed to Sankey by his committee secretary, W.J.H. Brodrick ("...The War Office suggest making 'omnibus' orders, viz one order for the whole population of a camp, leaving us to sort out the people afterwards... I have asked [Ball] to classify the cases by centres of revolt; that is to say all the people connected with the Cork outbreak together, and similarly for Kerry, Dublin and other places... Baldwin appears to be very keen to serve on the Sinn Fein Committee, if it is in any way possible. He talks of chucking all his private engagements... It appears from what [Mooney] says that there is still a faint possibility of an amnesty, but he doubts himself whether the Ulster Nationalists are going to consent to a settlement, in which case of course there can be no amnesty..."), 9 pages, 4to, 3 June to 26 July 1916

(v) Autograph retained drafts of two letters by Sankey to the Home Secretary, informing him that "The Advisory Committee considering the Sinn Fein cases met for the last time on Monday. There were only 5 cases left which were deposed of & the final figures are now as follows..."; and drawing his attention to the cases of Edward and James Rooney [both of whom had taken part in the Battle of Ashbourne as part of the Easter Rising]; the second thanking him for his kind remarks on the work of the committee, 4 pages, 4to, 30 August 1916 and undated

(vi) Letter signed to Sankey by Clause Schuster, Permanent Secretary to the Lord Chancellor's Office, giving the Chancellor's assent to Sankey and Younger "trying Sinn Fein prisoners", 1 page, 8vo, 5 June 1918

(vii) Two typed charge-sheets of appeals to be heard before Sankey and Mr Justice Younger of the 1918 Tribunal, addressed to "A.B." and "C.D.", each giving the history of the accused (the first possibly relating to Sean MacEntee), with pencil and ink annotations, on Irish Office blindstamped paper; plus a carbon of the charges against James and Richard Cotter, 6 pages, folio, undated [c. June 1918]

(viii) One autograph and four typed letters signed, by Edward Shortt, Chief Secretary for Ireland, the first enclosing the two preceding forms ("...And how would it do to hear evidence in public with power to the Tribunal to hear any case or part of a case in camera?..."); the others discussing the case of Thomas M. Russell and another interned prisoner, and adding "As the Irish Members have not gone over to London, I have been giving my whole attention to matters in Ireland. I find I can do more in a day in Dublin than I can do in a week in London..."); all but the first from Dublin Castle, 6 pages, folio, 4to and 8vo, 5 June to 19 July 1918

(ix) Carbon typescript "Note of the more important papers found in house of Thomas M. Russell, Tullamore, arrested 18-5-18", stamped "Secret"; plus a carbon issued under his name as President of the Standing Committee of the Sinn Fein, Tullamore, 3 pages, the first on flimsy paper, folio, [1918]


  • PAPERS RELATING TO THE TRIAL OF IRISH PRISONERS BY THE BRITISH AUTHORITIES AFTER THE EASTER RISING OF 1916, by the 'Advisory Committee to Try Sinn Feiners' established in June 1916 (after the trial and execution of the principal leaders by courts martial in May), and to the trial of interned prisoners by Sankey and Younger in 1918. The collection is held in an envelope addressed to Lord Sankey and marked by his executors "John Sankey Decd/ Irish Sinn Fein". The Sinn Fein was not in point of fact directly involved in the Rising itself, although of course as a political party it benefitted enormously from it and from the imposition of martial law which alienated moderate opinion and stayed in force until November 1916. By the time the second Tribunal was established in 1918 they had, indeed, become the principal focus of Irish nationalism. This important file of papers belonged to Sir John, later Viscount, Sankey, afterwards 'one of the most important and innovative lord chancellors of the twentieth century' (Robert Stevens, ODNB). As Chancellor, he was to preside in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, when it upheld the right of the Irish Free State to abolish appeals to the Committee.
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