From the Diary of the Late Andrew Mercer re- Bridget O’Reilly (Biddy Reilly).

The following are extracts from the diary of the late Andrew Mercer, Exhibit “A11” referred to in evidence.

Memorandum of Biddy’s bad conduct.

“Sometime last year (1855), I thought I had lost the large key of my largest Bramah lock box. I several times made a thorough search in my big desk where I kept it, removing everything, but could not find it. Some months after, I found it when not looking for it, in one of the pigeon-holes which I had 2 or 3 times taken out everything in searching for it. I have no doubt she had taken and kept it in the meantime, and put it where I found it; and I have no doubt she has a key which opens my big desk. It has occurred to me that she may have taken the big key to have one made like it. I believe her to be bad enough to do anything. That she robs me of money every time she has an opportunity I am satisfied: she is besides a most abominable liar, as is her sister Catherine, an instance of which follows:– Cath a long time ago, having been detected by me in stealing some of my brandy, I threatened to discharge her unless she took the temperance pledge before a priest, — she is a Catholic. Shortly afterwards she came in to me (after being out), Biddy with her, and said she had taken the pledge, showing me a medal she said she had received from the priest. Some time after this Biddy confessed to me they had deceived me, — that Catherine had not taken the pledge, and the medal shown me had been borrowed.”

“Recapitulation of panes of window glass wilfully broken by Bridget Reilly when in her mad fits.

  • 25 Oct. ’58. — 2 in kitchen.
  • 27 Oct. ’58 — 6 in office.
  • 5 Nov. ’59 — 1 in parlour.
  • 23 Nov. ’59 — 4 in office.
  • 10 Ap’l ’60 — 2 in kitchen
  • 11 Ap’l ’60 — 12 in kitchen
  • and several more at different times of which I kept no account.
  • 17 April ’60 — 1 in dressing room.

Other incidents listed:

  • “3 Oct ’58. — Biddy Reilly, 3rd July, ’55, crushed hat by stomping on it, on saying would have sent her to gaol, said would not go “would burn the house first.”
  • “17th May, ’56. — Mr. Ritchey’s little boy was here to-day playing with the child and asked for a drink of beer. I sent for some and at Biddy’s request two quarts, thinking she wanted some for another day. In the afternoon she was quite fuddled and acknowledged it was from the beer she had drank.”
  • “18th May, ’56. — Sunday — Found she had been drinking brandy at eleven o’clock. She said she had made some weak B and water for the child, but this was not true as I found from the child’s breath. Catherine said she had been taking it twice. Told Biddy I would allow no more brandy as I feared she was beginning to be a drunk’d.”
  • “21st Dec. ’59. — As I was sitting reading near the office stove she threw the water out of the stove water pan into my lap — it was hot but not scalding hot, or I should have been severely scalded.”
  • “She declared to God, 3rd March ’59, on my going into the kitchen for something while they were at dinner, that she would split my skull open if I went in again at their dinner-time. John Hulley and Mary Donnelly (serv’ts), present at the dinner-table. I think she was vexed at my finding fault about knives and forks.”
  • “24th Aug’st, ’60. — She sent her son this afternoon to ‘Tobico, with the Smiths, to remain a few days without first asking my permission, or saying anything to me about it.”
  • “24th Aug’st ’60. — Sunday. — She this evening, in the presence of Joanna, quarell’d with and abused me, and spit in my face, the cause, I believe, my telling Mrs. Myles, a neighbour, the evening before on her calling and enquiring of me if Mrs. Mercer was at home, that there was no such person, and giving her to understand she was my housekeeper and not Mrs. Mercer.
  • “April 10th. — In a rage scolded the carpenter raising the fence for making it so high; said she and the child would be smothered; told me and, I believe, the carpenter, she would pull it down before morning.”
  • “April 16th. — Got in rage at something the child had done, and broke the handle of a hammer in two, and threw head through a pane of glass in the front kitchen window next the field. I was not present. She said she threw the hammer on the floor, and that when the handle broke the head flew up and thro’ the glass, which of course could not have been the case.”
  • “May 10th, ’56. — Saying (in the back room), if a cow which had been in the pump-yard a day or two before came in again, she would stick or stab and scald her, I told her that for doing so she might be sent to the penitentiary; in 2 or 3 minutes after she came running into the office in a great rage, with both her arms extended before her, and came up to me (I thought she was going to strike me but she did not), and in her highest pitch bawled out, “You want to send me to the penitentiary? Let me see who dare do it!” and then took up a chair and motioned to drive it thro’ the window, but dashed it on the floor near the side of the stove, cutting into the floor; then took up my ruler and struck with all her force on the edge of the desk table, making a dent in it and again took up a chair and struck it on the floor with such violence that she broke off the front part of the seat.”
  • “14 Nov, ’55. — I was awoke by her while asleep in a chair in the office this evening, as I thought by her making a motion to kiss me. Shortly after I found $4 in bills had been taken from a pocket of my waist coat. I am satisfied she took them out of my pocket and awoke me in doing so. I accused her of doing it, but as usual she denied.”
  • “In 1854. I think ‘twas that yr. She brot me to pay a bill from Betley & Brown’s, for, I think, either a shawl or silk for a dress. The bill was made out in the name “Mrs. Mercer.” I made her take it back and get a new one in her own name, which she did.”

(JM)

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