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Reference Name Covering Dates Description Size File
WO71 345Pearse, Patrick (Prisoner 1)1 May 1916 - 3 May 1916

File relates to the field general courtmartial of P. H. Pearse [Commander in Chief, Irish Republican Brotherhood; Irish Volunteers], held on the 2nd of May 1916 at [Richmond Barracks, Dublin]. The courtmartial was presided over by Brigadier General C. G. Blackader (president), Lieutenant Colonel G. German and Lieutenant Colonel W. J. Kent. Charge against Pearse was that 'he did an act to wit did take part in an armed rebellion and in the waging of war against His majesty the King such act being of such a nature as to be calculated to be prejudicial to the Defence of the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy'. Pearse pleaded not guilty to the said charge, but was found guilty and sentenced to 'Death by being Shot'.

File includes copy Certificate of Execution, certifying that Pearse was shot along with Thomas McDonagh and Thomas Clarke on the morning of the 3rd of May 1916 at Kilmainham Gaol. 'I was present at the execution of the prisoners... and the Prisoners were dead before the Commandant disposed of the bodies.' Captain H.V.Stanley, Red Cross Hospital, Dublin Castle.

Witness statements are contained in the file and include Statement for the prosecution by Second Lieutenant S. O. King 12th Royal Inniskillen [Inniskilling] Fusiliers 'I was on duty at the Rotunda Dublin on Saturday the 29th April. The Sinn Féin was firing at the soldiers... The accused surrendered to General Lowe'. Pearse cross-examined the witness 'Q. Were you a prisoner in our hands and how were you treated. A. I was treated very well indeed' Pearse called no witnesses in his defence but made a statement which included the following passage 'I have deemed it my duty as an Irishman to fight for the freedom of my country. I admit I have organised men to fight against Britain. I admit having opened negotiations with Germany...'

File also includes copy handwritten letter and typed transcript of same from Pearse to his mother which includes the following: 'You will I know have been longing to hear from me. I do not know how much you have heard since the last note I sent you from the G.P.O... We decided in order to prevent further slaughter of the civilian population... to ask the General Commanding the British Forces to discuss terms. He replied that he would receive me only if I surrendered unconditionally, and this I did... I was brought here on Saturday evening and later on all men with us in Moore Street were brought here... Willie [Pearse's brother William Pearse WO71 358] and all the St. Enda's boys are here. I have not seen them since Saturday but I believe they are all well and that they are not now in any danger... Our hope and belief is that the Government will spare the lives of all our followers, but we don't expect that they will spare the lives of the leaders. We are ready to die and we shall die cheerfully and proudly... You must not grieve for all this... You too will be blessed because you were my mother... P.S. I understand that the German Expedition which I was counting on actually set sail but was defeated by the British' (1 May 1916 4pp).

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