Killen, John (DNB00)


KILLEN, JOHN (d. 1803), Irish rebel, kept an eating-house at the corner of Thomas Street, Dublin. Killen was arrested for participation in Emmet's movement of 23 July 1803. His trial commenced on 7 Sept. before Mr. Baron Daly. Two informers, Michael Mahaffey and John Ryan, pedlars by trade, swore that on the night of 23 July they were met by an armed mob, of whom Killen was one, and were forced to take pikes in their hands and join the insurrection. They also testified to a definite act of cold-blooded murder committed by Killen himself. On the other side, however, numerous witnesses, among them James Crosbie, an army pensioner, swore positively that on the commencement of the outbreak, at nine o'clock in the evening of 23 July, Killen had locked his door, and had not only not gone out himself, but had tried to prevent others from doing so. He and several of the witnesses, in fact, had, it was stated, remained in the cellar at Thomas Street till the morning of 24 July. James Smith, Killen's landlord, moreover testified to his character for loyalty. The evidence in Killen's favour was ably summarised and commented on by Curran, who defended him. The judge, however, summed up against the prisoner, and the jury brought in a verdict of guilty. A careful reading of the whole case points to the conclusion that this decision was entirely unjust. Killen protested bitterly from the dock against the verdict, but no reprieve was granted. He was executed on 10 Sept. 1803.

[Hibernian Magazine for 1803; Killen's Trial, in Howell's State Trials, vol. xxviii.]

G. P. M-y.