1773 – Killymuck Publican Wanted for Murder

I was searching through old newspapers recently, trying to discover the earliest local murder (i.e. local meaning in the Portglenone, Kilrea, Maghera area) that was referenced in the media. 

On the first of July 1773, a Gauger by the name of Edward O’Hagan, from Portglenone, was shot by John Hinds, a bar owner from Killymuck.  Killymuck is a townland which is roughly four miles from where we lived. 

A Gauger is a revenue officer who inspects bulk goods subject to duty, in other words, a tax collector.

Gaugers, according to many media reports of the time, were not the nicest of folk and were often despised by local people.  One would imagine that poor rural folk usually didn’t care to see a gauger in their area. Poverty and their efforts to make a living and raise a family, were enough to be getting on with.

On that mid-summer day, O’Hagan met his demise at John Hind’s house.  He had been trying to levy a fine on the bar owner.  The publican evidently didn’t much fancy the fine and shot the gauger.  The victim died later the same afternoon from his injuries.   John Hinds didn’t hang around and fled the scene.

Reward for Capture and Conviction of Portglenone Gauger Killer

The authorities in Dublin were aghast and offered two hundred pounds for the capture and conviction of John Hinds.  They placed details of their reward in many newspapers across the country.

I cannot find any further references in the media to the case.  One imagines if caught, he would have been hung. 

portglenone killymuck wanted
Wanted Man – John Hinds of Killymuck
Excise-Office, Dublin, August 3, 1773.

Whereas it appears by the examination taken before the Coroner, at the inquest held on the body of Edward O’Hagan, late Gauger at Portglenone, in the District ot Coleraine, that on the Morning of the 1st Day of July last, as the said O’Hagan was in the Execution his Duty, attempting to levy a Fine at the house of John Hinds, Publican, at Killymuck, in the County of Londonderry, was shot at, and wounded by the said Hinds, of which wound he died in the afternoon of said day, and for which crime the said Hinds has since fled.

The Commissioners of Excise, in order to bring the murderer to consign punishment, do hereby promise a reward of 200 sterling to any person or persons who shall apprehend and safely secure the said Hinds in any of his Majesty’s Goals in this kingdom, to be paid upon his conviction.

By Order of the Commissioners of Excise,
Vaun Montgomery, Secretary.
Parish of St. Andrew, Dublin, July 30, 1773.

Saunders’s News Letter, 9th August 1773

The British exchequer, via it’s affiliates in Dublin, always sought it’s pound of flesh. There are many stories of the unscrupulous nature of gaugers in Ireland.  I will endeavour to post a few such stories in the future on this website. 

One can imagine the running battle between local poteen (the Irish spelling is ‘poitín’) makers, and the men from the revenue, in rural areas. 

Eden, where the Mulholland clan resided, was infamous for poteen making.  Locals would make their illicit alcohol in Eden moss.  We owned and worked land there and it was referred to as “the bogs”.

It was infamous for the manufacture of spirits.  Many a still was to be found there, even until as recently as the 1920s and 30s.  Local cops from Innisrush and Gulladuff police stations would regularly be out on their pedal bicycles, keeping a watchful eye, looking for any signs of smoke coming from Eden moss. 

My favourite story is that of a Mulholland wake in Eden in August 1900, and a cop bust of poteen makers in Eden moss the same night. Long late night Irish rural wakes and poteen drinking.  The two go hand in hand, a marriage made in heaven. I’ll recount that story, and subsequent court case, in a future article.



"I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

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