Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The History of The Abduction Club: Part 2

To read part 1 click here

The Irish Abduction

At first when I began the adventure of discovering the History of The Abduction Club and the truth in the events I did not think that it would be easy, I thought that I would find very little information and that I would have to guess/infer from what I found. However one 'google' search and I immediately came across an article which was published in 1854 by The New York Times.

The article in itself is not very long and if your interested it is definitely worth reading. You can do so by following the below link and clicking on the button labelled "view full article" on the site.

Although this article has a lot of great information in it that I would love to share with those of you who will choose not to read it- I plan to focus on two areas that the article touched on, which are answers to three of the questions I posed in Part 1.

These are questions are:

When did it start- by whom?

The New York Times article stated that after the King of Leinster ran away with Devorgle, abductions became more common in Ireland. Unfortunately the article doesn't give any further information and if you are anything like me you probably have no idea who these two people were.

Naturally I wanted to know more about this King and the woman he abducted so once again further research was needed- this time it took a fair bit of searching to find who exactly they were and about the events surrounding the 'abduction'. Particularly because there was such variations between the spelling of the both their names.

Now remember once again I am no historian, and this is rather condensed and simplified version of the events. Feel free to do your own research about these two people if you wish.

This particular Irish King of Leinster was Diarmait Mac Murchada (1110–1171) who is also more commonly known today as Dermot MacMurrough. Essentially, Mac Murchada abducted the wife of TighearnĂ¡n Ua Ruairc (also know as Tiernan O'Rourke) who at the time was the King of Breifne. Putting aside all the political jargon, because really all we just want to know about is the abduction, Derbforgaill (also noted as Devorgle/Dearbhfhorguill/Dervorgilla/Dearbhfhorghaill) it seems is thought to have gone willingly- some even going as far to suggest it was almost like an elopement and that there may have been some romance. Although I believe the element of 'romance' to highly unlikely in this case, Derbforgaill alike the young heiress who were carried away years after her may have found the act of abduction romantic. Whatever the motive and feelings of Derbforgaill, this is said to be the earliest recorded abduction in Ireland and the event which began phenomenon of 'The Irish Abduction". .

What did the law/government do about it? Was it similar to the consequences faced by Byrne and Strang?

In the film, we see that The Abduction Club is run by Sir Myles, he keeps the young men in order and is careful to abide by all the Irish laws. Sir Myles, it is assumed has been part of The Abduction Club for many years as we find out towards the end of the film that he abducted his own wife (much to her pleasure). Neither he or any of the other abductors, to our knowledge, were ever punished or reprimanded for there actions. When Byrne and Strang abduct the Kennedy sisters everything changes due to Mr. Power wanting Anne as his wife. Power uses his influence to have Byrne and Strang hunted. And the Attorney General, Lord Fermoy is particularly happy to help punish these men as he has his own personal score to settle with Sir Myles. All-in-all the film leads the audience to believe that Byrne and Strang are the first ones to face consequences for abducting heiress'- especially when Lord Fermoy boldly proclaims:

"It is my opinion that the heinous crime of forcible abduction is a will no longer be tolerated"

The "it will no longer be tolerated" suggests that it was tolerated in the past. The New York Times article states that the forcible abduction was made a capital felony- where the law punished the man who took off with/abducted the lady. It proceeds to tell of a humorous story of which was an example of how this law was evaded by some by simply placing the lady on the horse ahead of the man. This for all appearances made it seem as if the woman was the one whom was abducting the man.

In order to get a hold of the laws surrounding 'abductions' I looked up the term in the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law in here was an explanation relating to the "the unlawful carrying away of a wife or female child or ward for the purpose of marriage..."  which detailed that the law was common in the 19th century. A line of particular interest to me was one stating that the law included both the removal of the lady and the temporary confinement of the woman, it also went further to include that whether it was carried out with or without her consent.

*In addition to this definition there is also some information regarding the laws past prior to the 19th century which were outlined in the above article from the New York Times.  The first law was passed in 1634 that condemned and punished those who carrried away heiresses. In 1707 this law was revised in order to include forcible abduction, which was by this time considered a capital felony. It is very likely that many young men who abducted heiresses encountered punishments similar to that which was portrayed in the film.
I hope that you enjoyed this second part, I know they are quite long- I tend to get a little carried away with my thoughts in relation to the information that I find. The third part will be posted up in the next couple of days. It will focus on the last Kennedy sisters- Were they real? Were they abducted?

The next parts are up! Are you interested in reading:


Miss Laurie said...

Thank you for the link to that article, it was particularly fascinating! It also brought to mind the lyrics from an old Irish Ballad called "Bold Jaime" which tells the story of an abduction case where the lady pleaded Jaime's innocence stating that she ran away with him because she loved him. Jaime is "transported" for his crimes.
The history of Mac Murchaada and Devorgle is very interesting and I love the Irish names! Dervorgilla is a favorite of mine.
How incredibly interesting! I love history and researching. Thanks so much for writing these posts! I'm looking forward to reading part 3!

~Miss Laurie :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, but the movie is set in the 18th century,and you talk of 19th century laws, so they may have been made after the events of AC took place....

Mel said...


Firstly thank you for stopping by this blog!

And yes great observation I did mention the 19th century laws, and the film was set in the 18th century. Looking back at the post - the reason that I included the bit about the 19th century was because it shows a documented time period which is very close to that of The Abduction Clubs.

The article I linked in the post had more information on the laws prior to 19th century which I didn’t include simply because of the length of the post. I understand in re-reading this post that it would have been useful to have included that information too- so I have gone back and edited the post :)
I have put an * next to the paragraph I have added :) I apologise, I really should have added this information in before. So thank you for drawing my attention to it.