The Black Donnellys

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Black Donnellys : The outrageous tale of Canada's deadliest feud

Biography & Autobiography

Author - Nate Hendley
Publisher - James Lorimer & Company
Pages - 128
ISBN - 1459413385

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Detail - The gruesome saga of the Black Donnellys has been heavily mythologized beginning with the first book published on the story by Thomas Kelley in 1954. A thick layer of rumour, legend and hearsay has built up around the facts of the case. But one thing is clear — no one who reads this book will ever forget the murderous events that occurred near the town of Lucan, Ontario, in the 1870s. This new edition has been updated to include numerous black and white and colour photos pertaining to the infamous Donnelly family.

The Black Donnellys :

True Crime

Author - Thomas P. Kelley
Publisher - Willowdale, Ont. : Firefly Books
Pages - 179
ISBN - 9781895565249

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Detail - The Black Donnellys by Thomas P. Kelley, first published in1954, has became one of Canada's all time best-sellers. A classic account of how a family used brute force to brawl, steal, burn and murder their way into the history books.

Night Justice : The True Story of the Black Donnellys


Author - Peter Edwards
Publisher - Hunter House
Pages - 384
ISBN - 9781552636220

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Detail - February 2005 is the 125th anniversary of the Donnelly mass murder. Night Justice is the first serious re-evaluation of this crime and features previously unpublished material. Late on the frigid night of February 4, 1880, five members of the Donnelly family were slaughtered in their homes near Lucan, a hamlet outside London, Ontario. The Toronto Globe called it "the blackest crime that ever disgraced and shocked the Dominion." The killers were a mob of neighbours, a vigilante society incited by the local parish priest to take matters into their own hands. Known as "night justice," this practice was all too common in small communities. In fact, the local police constable, Michael Carroll, was a leader of the vigilante murderers. A brutal history of clan violence formed the backdrop for the murders and cover-up. Even with a witness who testified in open court—an 11-year-old boy who hid beneath a bed during the slaughter—and other evidence pointing to the culprits, only one man—the police officer ever faced murder charges, and he was acquitted. Drawing on court transcripts, archival searches, material obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Peter Edwards tells a shocking tale with fresh revelations on the Donnelly family murder and trial.

Vengeance of the Black Donnellys : Canada's Most Feared Family Strikes Back from the Grave


Author - Thomas P. Kelley
Publisher - Willowdale, Ont. : Firefly Books
Pages - 211
ISBN - 9781895565553

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Detail - Vengeance of the Black Donnellys' is a fictionalized sequel to the best-selling true story of 'The Black Donnellys' by Thomas P. Kelley. It tels the harrowing tale of what happened after the massacre of the hated Donnelly family of Lucan, Ontario.

The Black Donnellys - The Complete Series :


Author - Paul Haggis
Publisher -
Pages -

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Detail - Four very different Irish-American brothers, Kevin, Jimmy, Tommy and Sean, have sworn to live by the code of "family first." But as they become increasingly involved in the ruthless world of New York organized crime, their loyalties to their friends, to their loved ones, and especially to each other will be put to the ultimate test.

In Search of the Donnellys :

Biography & Autobiography

Author - Ray Fazakas
Publisher - Trafford Publishing
Pages - 300
ISBN - 1466912995

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Detail - The massacre of the Donnellys by their fellow church members has fascinated the public in the English-speaking world for well over a hundred years. Contained in this book are intriguing new photographs never before published and significant new information, which will pique the interest even of those who have been familiar for years with this bit of North American folk history with Irish roots.

The Donnellys Must Die :

True Crime

Author - Orlo Miller
Publisher - John Wiley & Sons
Pages - 256
ISBN - 9780470675199

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Detail - From the annals of Canadian true crime, the story of The Black Donnellys massacre Ancient feuds, bloody conspiracy, gruesome murder, and bitter controversy--all shrouded in a seemingly impenetrable cloak of mystery. This is the tale of "The Black Donnellys"--a notorious family of Irish settlers who were viciously attacked while they slept in their Lucan, Ontario farmhouse on February 4, 1880. Here, in this definitive account of this sordid episode in Canadian history, first published in 1962 and continuously in print since then, author Orlo Miller sets out to separate fact from fiction, and legend from reality, to bring us the truth behind the Donnelly murders. Combining exhaustive research based on contemporary newspaper accounts, court records and personal diaries, with personal insights and dramatic re-creations, Miller's chilling revelations shed new light on this infamous case in the annals of Canadian crime. You will be taken on a journey of terrible bloodlust, unbending loyalties, and fatal revenge in the re-telling of an event whose infamy still lives in popular culture today.

The Donnellys : A Trilogy

Literary Criticism

Author - James Reaney
Publisher - Dundurn
Pages - 298
ISBN - 9780888781178

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Detail - Based on a true story, these three plays explore the saga of a secret society and massacre that stunned the Canadian public in 1880.

Blood of the Donnellys :

Juvenile Fiction

Author - David McRae
Publisher - Dundurn
Pages - 144
ISBN - 1770702881

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Detail - Jason Stevens is an angry 15-year-old when his parents decide to move from Toronto to Lucan, Ontario, site of the notorious 1880 massacre of the Irish-Canadian Donnelly family. In the big city, Jason’s spate of petty thievery earned him a sentence of community service under the tutelege of his grandfather, an eccentric retired school teacher, who is building a museum devoted to the history of Lucan. Now even unhappier than he was in Toronto, Jason falls in with a gang of youth called the White Boys, who are involved with the local drug trade and who are terrorizing the neighbourhood, much as the Donnellys were once accused of doing. While performing his community service, Jason finds himself becoming enthralled with the Donnelly story. With the help of a ghost of someone who may have had something to do with the butchery of the Donnellys, Jason searches for answers both in history and in his own life.

Black Donnelly :

Author - Thomas P. Kelley
Publisher - Signet
Pages -
ISBN - 9780451012210

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Detail - The terrible Donnelly feud, by far the most notorious and violent in the history of Canada, began in the spring of 1847 only a few hours after James Donnelly, an Irish immigrant, first arrived in the town of Lucan, Ontario. The feud lasted nearly 33 years and was marked by murders, gang wars, highway robbery, mass arson, derailed trains, mutilations, and barbarisms paralleling the Dark Ages.

Double Trap : The Last Public Hanging in Canada


Author - John Melady
Publisher - Dundurn
Pages - 248
ISBN - 1459712528

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Detail - A dozen years before the Black Donnellys were butchered at Lucan, Ontario, another murderous rampage took place a few miles away. On June 6, 1868, three men robbed and killed a rich farmer, his wife, and her unborn child. They concocted an alibi, stuck to it, and almost got off. In fact, two of them did. The third, Nicholas Melady, went to prison and fell in love with a beautiful woman in a nearby cell. There to entrap him, she listened, learned, and led him to the gallows. When he was hanged in Goderich, hundreds watched, but thousands were late for the spectacle. They were bitterly disappointed because they had missed the last public hanging in Canada.

The Donnelly project :

Social Science

Author - Andrew T. Hunter, Susan Detwiler, Robert Harris, Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum, Museum London (London, Ont.)
Publisher - London Regional Art & Historical
Pages - 30

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Detail -