I hope you enjoyed Garrow’s Law yesterday – only one Episode left! It’s gone all too quickly!
So, there were a number of different themes in yesterday’s episode.
We kicked off with the rape case. Although Garrow was in his traditional role as defence counsel, this time, he was defending the rapist. This is one of the cases that we drew on – as you can see, it was Garrow v Silvester. One of the most painful things about the case is that the real Mary Tolin was only ‘going of’ thirteen:
Next was, of course, the duel. Duelling was happening around Garrow’s time. If you are interested, amongst a number of sources, I suggest having a look at Crime and Punishment in Eighteenth Century England by Frank McLynn. The relevant bit is from p142 onwards. It’s all – bar two pages – online at:
There are records of barristers having fought duels with each other around this time – apparently, in 1816, the barristers Alley and Adolphus had such a bitter exchange in court that they went to Calais to settle the matter by a duel! As for Garrow, one of the inspirations for the duel was an actual challenge that was put to Garrow. Professor Beattie wrote an excellent piece about Garrow for History Today journal. In that piece, he Professor Beattie wrote about Garrow’s dealing with a Swiss nobleman called Baron Hompesch. The baron brought a suit against a neighbor for hunting on his leased estate in Kent. Garrow defended the neighbor and, surprise surprise, was rude to the Baron in Court, and made fun of him. Apparently, the Baron challenged Garrow to a Duel and then complained to the Prince of Wales when G refused to fight the duel that would restore the baron’s honour. It’s not clear why Garrow refused, but maybe, he’d had his fingers burnt before?
Next there was the burgeoning love with Garrow and Lady Sarah. I don’t want to say more about that in case it spoils next week’s episode …!
Then the primary case, this was where Garrow got his revenge on the theiftaker. We have talked about Thieftaking before, but perhaps the interesting thing to point out is about perjury:
In 1786, The Times wrote:
“The crime of perjury has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished; at present it is dangerous for an honest man to make an affidavit in a Court of Law, it being the practice of the swindling tribe, when fined or prosecuted, to overpower him with a train of suborned witnesses and outswear him by numbers”
It also wrote:
‘Conviction-rewards, rather create, than amend the evils, which they were intended to prevent.’
It’s also worth noting that at the Old Bailey, three passages of scripture were inscribed in gold lettering on the wall above the bench:
- If a false witness shall rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong, then shall ye do unto him as he had thought to do unto his brother. – Deut, c xix. V. 16
- A false witness shall not be unpunished, but he that speaketh lies, shall perish. – Prov. C. xix. V. 9
- Ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of God. – Lev c xix. V. 12 (Source The Bar and the Old Bailey by Allyson May – as I’ve said before, this is a great book and everyone who is interested in this period should read it http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bailey-1750-1850-Studies-Legal-History/dp/0807828068
Here is a case that, although it is a bit before Garrow’s time, is interesting because it lays out a perjury trial where someone is getting tried for fitting up an innocent man for a robbery. It was exactly this sort of thing that the Times was still campaigning against in Garrow’s time.
As always, if you want to find out more, I suggest you go to http://www.oldbaileyonline.org and play around with various searches and keywords.
with best wishes