On This Day

James Donnelly

Squatter James Donnelly

Profession: Squatter


Biography: Patriarch of the Donnelly family, also known as the Black Donnellys, a family who participated in a notorious feud in Biddulph Township in Middlesex County, Ontario, which culminated in a massacre in which five family members were killed.

Born: March 7, 1816
Birthplace: , Ireland
Star Sign: Pisces

Died: February 4, 1880 (aged 63)
Cause of Death: Murder

Historical Events

  • 1857-06-27 James Donnelly becomes engaged in a drunken brawl with Patrick Farrell, who suffers a fatal blow to the head. Farrell dies two days later, which makes James Donnelly a wanted man and draws the Donnelly family into the notorious feud
  • 1859-09-17 James Donnelly is sentenced to hang for murdering Patrick Farrell, but a petition for clemency reduces his sentence to 7 years in Kingston Penitentiary
  • 1880-02-04 "Black Donnelly" massacre in Biddulph, Ontario, Canada: Irish immigrants James (63), Johannah (56), John (32), Thomas (25) and Bridget (21) Donnelly murdered at home by members of the Vigilance Committee

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