A War of Independence Arrest for the Irish Bar, 1921

36 Ailesbury Road, Dublin, where barrister Richard Humphreys was arrested for possession of a revolver during the Irish War of Independence. Image via the Times.

From the Freeman’s Journal, 4 April 1921:



Richard and Edward Humphreys, 36 Aylesbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin, pleaded not guilty before a Field General Courtmartial in the North Dublin Union on Saturday last to a charge of having at their residence one loaded Webley revolver.

A military officer gave evidence of having searched the house in which the accused lived in Ballsbridge on March 29.  Witness said he saw both of the accused in the house.  Underneath the staircase there was a cupboard, with a platform at the back, which he removed, and on the top of the joists he discovered a Webley service revolver, which was loaded in all six chambers.  The accused, when questioned, denied all knowledge of the weapon.  Richard stated that he had only been in the house a fortnight, having been in France and England.

Another member of the raiding party corroborated.

Richard Humphreys, in a statement to the court, declared his innocence.  He stated that he had been called to the Irish Bar in 1920, but had never practiced.

Neither himself nor his brother had seen the revolver previous to its being shown to them by the officer.  He added that he took no part in politics, being solely concerned with his writings for papers on motor and cycling topics, and he wished to enter a protest against his arrest.  He was merely in the house at the time, and that was apparently the only reason why he was arrested.

The other accused made no statement.

Richard was found not guilty, but after leaving the Court he was re-arrested.

In the case of Edward the findings will be promulgated.”

An interesting example of the Irish Bar’s involvement in the struggle for Irish independence, a struggle commenced by another barrister, Patrick Pearse, in 1916.

Richard and Edward were the brothers of Sheila, otherwise Sighle, Humphreys, best-known for her involvement in resisting a Free State raid on the Humphreys’ house in Ailesbury Road during the later Irish Civil War.  Also the subject of numerous arrests, Sheila, like many of those arrested during the War of Independence and Civil War, made a point of expressing her disapproval of the process – in her case by conspicuously knitting in court.

Numerous members of the Humphreys family continue to feature in Irish law and life today. 

Richard’s hobby of motorcycling was very popular among young Irish barristers during the 1920s!

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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