The Murder of Arthur Edward Herbert

Arthur Edward Herbert (1830-1882), magistrate and land agent, was shot dead in broad daylight at Lisheenbawn Cross  as he walked from Castleisland to his home at Killeentierna House near Currow on 30 March 1882.  Nobody was brought to justice for the killing.


A murder enquiry was set up and two rewards offered, one of £2,000 and a second of £500.  Arrests followed including Michael Coffey, John Kennedy and John Casey. The name of James Brown is also on record.  Three men ready to sail for America were apprehended in Queenstown and later released.  John Casey was brought to Cork Winter Assizes in December 1882 where a bill was found against him by the Grand Jury for Herbert’s murder.  However, after one year and three weeks in prison, Casey, who was said to have been informed on by an itinerant named Hickey ‘held in high repute as a scoundrel qualified in jail for every crime he had the pluck to commit,’ was released on bail at the end of April 1883.


There is a school of thought that Sylvester Poff and James Barrett, executed just months before Casey’s release, paid the price for Herbert’s murder, innocent victims of paid perjurers on trumped up charges hatched at Star Chamber inquisitions.[1]


Herbert was an unpopular magistrate.  An assassination plot against his father, Rev Thomas Herbert, was evidently made twenty years earlier by a farmer named Michael Crean over land at Farrankeel (Curramore) near Castleisland, land over which Arthur Edward Herbert had been appointed receiver.  Crean, who was threatened with ejectment, was arrested at Cahir, Tipperary, to where he had gone to obtain the services of his relation, Daniel Gleeson, a lime burner and quarryman, as paid assassin.  The case went to trial in March 1861.[2]


Twenty years on, Arthur Edward Herbert was compared to the Athenian, Draco:


Never during the last twenty-five centuries has there been a more worthy disciple of the inveterate Athenian law-giver than Arthur E Herbert who would not hesitate to deal deadly chastisement to innocent and guilty alike.  Buckshot and skiver are the intemperate expressions of this worthy to whom the people are taught to look to for justice.[3]


The murder of Arthur Edward Herbert was recorded in the folklore of the time:


A Is for Arthur who was shot in the breast
B For the bullet that shot him down smart
C For the constables who came in great haste
D Is for Davis who was first at the place
E For English who mourn his loss
F For the fatal spot, Lisheenbawn Cross
G For the grunt he gave when he fell
H For the hurried that sent him to hell
I For the Irish who was glad of the sport
[no J]
K for Kerry where rifles abound
L For the loyal men there to be found
M For the manner in which he was got
N For the nose which seen after the shot
O For the orders to the glebe sent away
P For the parson too late for to pray[4]


Arthur Edward Herbert


Arthur Edward Herbert was the eldest son of Rev Thomas Herbert (1805-1878) of Killeentierna House and Wilhelmina, daughter of Rev Henry Jones, Rector of Lislee, Cork.  Three more sons of Rev Thomas Herbert died: Richard Herbert, Thomas William Herbert, and Jonas Travers Jones Herbert (1839-1880), a surgeon and a member of the Freemasons.[5]


A fifth son, Surgeon-General Henry Carden Herbert (1833-1906) was the longest surviving (see note at the end of this article).  An only daughter, Emily Herbert of Hill Ville, Ringview, Glenbrook, Co Cork, died unmarried on 1 February 1889.


The funeral of Arthur Edward Herbert took place on 3 April 1882 from Killeentierna House in a hearse drawn by four horses.  The entourage consisted of twenty-three magistrates, sixty soldiers, seventy police and ‘about a score of civilians.’  The remains were deposited in the family vault at Ardcrone.


More than eighteen months later, it was reported in some newspapers that the remains of Arthur Edward Herbert had been removed by stealth from the family vault, ‘There is a superstitious objection amongst the peasants against permitting them to be there.’[6]


This was borne out in the will of his mother, Wilhelmina Herbert, who died on 25 March 1887, in which she left a sum of money to Mr Davis, Sub Inspector of Castleisland, ‘for his great help with the interment and re-interment of her son, Arthur Edward Herbert.’[7]


The inscription at Ardcrone is as follows:


Most Truly Loved
& Most Deeply Lamented
Here lie the Remains of
Arthur Edward Herbert JP
Eldest son of Rev Thomas Herbert
40 Years Rector of Killeentierna
In the Adjoining Tomb
Lie His Revered Remains
With those of his Two Sons
Richard & Thomas William
This Stone & Tomb is Erected
To Their Memory
By A Sorrowing Widow & Mother


Weep Not they are Not Dead but Sleep
Until A Glorious Resurrection


Ardcrone, burial place of Arthur Edward Herbert


Henry Carden Herbert


Surgeon-General Henry Carden Herbert, brother of Arthur Edward Herbert, joined the army in September 1857 and served in the 45th, 85th and 40th regiments.  He became Surgeon-Major on 1 March 1873; Brigade-Surgeon on 9 December 1882 and retired with the honorary rank of Deputy Surgeon-General on 21 December 1887.  He had charge of the Station Hospital, Devonport before his retirement and was afterwards employed at the 28th Regional District, Bristol.  He married Isabella Miranda, daughter of Edward Galwey in Dublin on 23 April 1867 (his wife died 10 October 1915 in Plymouth, Devon).  Henry Carden Herbert died after a short illness at his residence, 6 Elliot Terrace, The Hoe, Plymouth on 2 March 1906 leaving £7909 17s 2d in his will to his aforementioned wife and his son and namesake, Henry Carden Herbert.


As far as can be seen, Henry Carden Herbert and Isabella Miranda Herbert née Galwey had four children: two sons and two daughters, the daughters being Cornelia St Leger Herbert (St Leger originating from her maternal grandmother) born c1870 who married William Mason Inglis, 2nd Royal Berkshire Regiment, on 21 Oct 1891 at Clifton, Christchurch, Gloucestershire, England. Her sister, Emily Mary Herbert, (unmarried and living at The Hoe, Plymouth in 1939 census) was one of the bridesmaids (account of wedding ceremony in Cork Constitution, 26 October 1891). Cornelia St Leger Inglis died after a short illness at her father’s residence, 12 Vyvyan Terrace, Clifton, on 3 March 1895 aged 25.


The eldest of the two sons of Henry Carden Herbert and Isabella Miranda Herbert was Henry Carden Herbert, a Captain in HM army, born on 11 December 1872 in Saint Helena (an island in the South Atlantic Ocean).  He married Alix Elizabeth Cunningham, who was born on 6 June 1880.  Henry Carden Herbert died on 31 August 1946 in Woking, Surrey.  His widow died on 15 June 1961.


Second son George Stawell/Stewell Galwey Herbert was born on 12 January 1874 in Saint Helena.  He married Margaretta Lydia Erskine on 6 January 1896 in Greenock, Scotland.[8]  At the time of their marriage he was an actor and she was an actress, advertising in 1899 as the Pinero Comedy Company, 6 Elliott Terrace, The Hoe, Plymouth:


Mr Galwey Herbert was educated for the Army at the United Services College, Westward Ho, North Devon, but the stage held greater attractions for him.  He started his stage career by playing a small part in a Gaiety burlesque, then went to South Africa, where he stayed nearly two years.  On his return from South Africa, Mr Herbert was engaged to play Claude in Jane (a part he has played five hundred and four times), ‘W G’ in Walker, London and Harry Marsland in The Private Secretary.  He is now appearing in Eden Philpott’s amusing little play, A Pair of Knickerbockers at the Garrick Theatre.[9]


The couple divorced in 1910/11 and he married a second time to another actress, Florence Wheatley Simpson (known as Jane Wheatley who died in New York in 1935) on 6 June 1911 in Marion, Indiana, USA.  From his first marriage to Margaretta Lydia Erskine he had a son – Johnstone Erskine Galwey Herbert, born on 19 September 1896.


Lieutenant Johnstone Erskine Galwey Herbert, 5th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, was Killed in Action on 23 April 1917.  A memorial window in the Chapel of Clayesmore School, Iwerne Minster, Dorset, is dedicated to Lt Herbert, inscribed: ‘In Memory of Johnstone E G Herbert Lieut 5th Batt, Yorkshire Reg, Died at Arras on April 23rd 1917.[10]


George Stawell Galwey Herbert (as published in The Sketch in 1900) and his son, 2nd Lt Johnstone Erskine Galwey Herbert, killed in the First World War, his remains never recovered.  A window in Clayesmore School Chapel, Winchester bears his name.  Image from


Sincere thanks extended to Marie H Wilson, Tralee, for genealogical research.


[1] ‘Poff and Barrett were executed for a murder of which they knew absolutely nothing whatsoever about.  Their innocence of the crime for which they were executed was made manifest to all a short time after they were hanged in Tralee jail in January 1883.  Their innocence was believed in by the general public before their conviction and execution and the British authorities were charged with being in possession of full knowledge of their innocence before they decided that the dread sentence of the law should be carried out’ (Kerryman, 18 May 1929).

[2] In March 1864, the lands of Curramore called Farrankeal, Bawnatillane, Curraknockane, Curraruss, Bawnfield and Curra Mountain in Trughanackmy lately in possession of Cornelius, John and Nicholas Crean were advertised for lease.

[3] Buckshot and skiver alluded to language said to have been used by Herbert.  On 23 August 1881, Mr Timothy Healy asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland about the language used by A E Herbert JP in the case of persons charged at Brosna Petty Sessions, and his suitability as a magistrate. 

[4] From a version published in the Irish Times, 9 January 1883.  A later version with the full alphabet is held in the archive of Castleisland District Heritage.  The Ballad of Arthur Herbert in eight stanzas, which begins: Ye people all, both great and small,/Now listen unto me/Whilst I relate, of recent date, Another tragedy./I claim your kind attention/For this story I’ve penned down,/Which took place in County Kerry/And near Castleisland town, was published in The Taxpayers’ News, a copy of which is held by Castleisland District Heritage.

[5] Jonas Travers Jones Herbert married on 20 January 1880 to Margaret Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas William Overman Esq of Maulden, Beds, and died on 11 August of the same year. A son, Henry Travers Herbert, was born posthumously on 10 December 1880.  He was described as a brewer of 23 Beaconsfield Road, St Albans, Herts, when he married German-born Wilhelmine Bernhadine (or Bernhardine, daughter of Wilhelm Bunselmeier, a manager of an ironworks) of 16 Talgarth Road in St Mary’s Church, Fulham on 31 January 1903.  Margaret Elizabeth Herbert, his mother, widow of Jonas Travers Jones Herbert, was one of the witnesses. The couple were living in Riva, Mildred Avenue, Watford in the 1911 census and Henry’s occupation was listed as Teeth Adaptor and Extractor. Henry Travers Herbert of Little Orchard, Abbots Langley, Herts died at Waiho Gorge Hotel, Waiho Gorge, New Zealand on 19th February 1938.  Wilhelmine predeceased him; she died at Hill End, St Albans, Hertfordshire on 26 April 1932. 

[6] North Eastern Gazette, 20 December 1883.

[7] Probate of the will, dated 10 December 1886, was granted on 27 May 1887 to her son, Henry Carden Herbert, Stoke, Davenport, England.  The other executor of the will, Rev Michael Jones, her brother, refused to execute same.  Bequests were made to her son, Henry Carden Herbert and to her daughter, Emily Herbert, and money in trust to her grandson, Henry Travers Herbert.  She left money in trust to Henry Hungerford to be paid to Arthur Townsend Hungerford on reaching 21 years.  A sum of money to Rev Richard Jones, DD, Youghal, in trust for Jonas Travers Jones, eldest son of her late brother, Jonas Travers Jones.  She left money to Mrs Dora Clarke, Dublin and her sister, Mary Leonard, daughters of late Rev John Newman Lombard.  She left her two nieces, Catherine Charlotte and Alice Hungerford a sum of money each.  She also left money to Mrs Agnes Palmer, wife of late Edward Orpen Palmer, solicitor. 

[8] Margaretta Lydia Erskine, born c1861, would seem to be the sister of James Wallace Erskine, children of James Laurie Erskine. This would appear to be Margaretta’s second marriage for on 18 January 1923, in London, Lydia Margaretta Galwey Herbert, only daughter of James Laurie Erskine, was married to Walter Arthur Griffin Walker of Ben Rhydding, Yorkshire, who died on 16 December 1924. 

The following is worth noting as it seems to relate to the above.  In 1873, Lydia Erskine brought a suit for judicial separation on the grounds of cruelty of her husband James McMichan Erskine.  The decree, brought before the Right Hon Sir James Hannen, the Judge Ordinary, was suspended.  In 1881, Lydia and James McMichan Erskine were living in Toxteth, Liverpool with their children Lydia M aged 16 and Anthony Erskine aged 25.

[9] The Sketch, 5 December 1900. 

[10] The following biography is taken from A Memorial Roll of the Officers of Alexandra Princess of Wales Own Yorkshire Regiment Who Died 1914-1919 compiled by Robert Coulson (1952-2008) on the following website Johnstone Herbert joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps in October of 1914 joining with the Yorkshire regiment on March 13th 1915. Johnstone Herbert moved up into corps reserve with the 5th battalion in early April 1917 into a position close to the town of Arras. As the 2nd Battle of the Scarpe, part of the Arras offensive opened on April 22nd they were moved up into the front line Nepal Trench. At 4-45am the following day the 5th battalion supported the 4th East Yorkshires in a frontal assault on the German line. Lt Johnstone Erskine Galway Herbert was killed in this action on April 23rd 1917. His body never recovered he is remembered today on the Arras Memorial at the Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery in Arras.