Episode 3, Inspirations

Hi everyone,

My notes on the real cases that inspired this episode of Garrow’s Law is online now here at the BBC website.

In addition to the details, if you want to see Captain Baillie’s original pamplet, it’s online here

The speech that Garrow made in the Baillie case was in fact made by Thomas Erskine.  To read Erskine’s speech in full, click here. In particular, scroll down to page 30 to see the bit about Lord Sandwich, that was so outrageous that it was blanked out!!

4 Responses to Episode 3, Inspirations

  1. Very disappointed re confusion over C18th elections in Huntingdon in third episode of Garrow’s Law.

    1) Huntingdon then county town of Huntingdonshire not Cambridgeshire which it was only amalgamated with in 1973.
    2) Earl of Sandwich would have sat in House of Lords. He would therefore not himself have needed the votes of the Greenwich Hospital trustees although MPs for Huntingdonshire in c18th were Montagu family members so I am sure he would have been interested in controlling elections in both the county.

    It doesn’t seem clear to me that there were any good dramatic reasons for changing the historical facts for this episode. Any comments?

    • Mark Pallis says:

      Dear Malcolm,

      Thanks for writing.

      I regret that you feel disappointed about the third episode. However, I can reassure you that we haven stuck very closely to the facts as they are presented in historical documents from the time.

      Have a look at this book which reproduces Erskine’s speech in the actual case

      Here is one of the relevant bits:

      “Some of the alleged grievances in this publication were, that the health and comfort of the seamen in the Hospital were sacrificed to
      lucrative and corrupt contracts, under which the clothing, provisions, and all sorts of necessaries and stores were deficient ; that the contractors themselves presided in the very offices appointed by the charter for the control of contracts, where, in the character of counsellors, they were enabled to dismiss all complaints, and carry on with impunity their own system of fraud and peculation.

      But the chief subject of complaint (the public notice of which, as Captain Baillie alleged, drew down upon him the resentment of the
      Board of Admiralty) was, that landmen were admitted into the offices and places in the Hospital designed exclusively for seamen by the spirit, if not by the letter, of the institution. To these landmen Captain Baillie imputed all the abuses he complained of, and he more than insinuated, by his different petitions, and by the publication in question, that they were introduced to these offices for their election services to the Earl of _______, as freeholders of Huntingdonshire.

      He alleged further, that he had appealed from time to time to the Council of the Hospital and to the Directors without effect, and that he had been equally unsuccessful with the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty during the presidency of the Earl of Sandwich ; that, in consequence of these failures, he resolved to attract the notice of the General Governors, and, as he thought them too numerous as a body for a convenient examination in the first instance, and besides had no means of assembling them, a statement of the facts through the medium of this appeal, drawn up exclusively for their use, and distributed solely among the members of their body, appeared to him the most eligible mode of obtaining redress on the subject.

      In this composition, which was written with great zeal and with some asperity,* the names of the landmen, intruded into the offices for
      seamen, were enumerated ; the contractors also were held forth and reprobated, and the First Lord of the Admiralty himself was not

      On the circulation of the book becoming general, the Board of Admiralty suspended Captain Baillie from his office ; and the different
      officers, contractors, &c., in the Hospital, who were animadverted upon, applied to the Court of King’s Bench, in Trinity Term, 1778, and obtained a rule upon Captain Baillie to show cause in the Michaelmas Term following why an information should not be exhibited against him for a libel.”

  2. James Turpin says:

    I too was disappointed by these little slips in what otherwise has been an excellent and interesting series. I look forward to the next series.

    The reference to the corrupt electoral system reminded me of some research I did on the treason trials of 1794 many years ago, as part of my law degree: an outrageous attempt by the Government of the day to use a constructive notion of treason to suppress supporters of electoral reform on the premise that they were supporting the terrorist regime in revolutionary France. The parallels with the response of 9/11 would make an interesting subject of a future series perhaps – although ironically, given the way he is portrayed as a liberal in the series, Garrow was for the prosecution in the first case against Thomas Hardy and Erskine won a famous victory in getting an acquittal and embarrassing the Government.

    The nine-day trial was also apparently the first time a jury was sequestered in a hotel overnight…

    • Mark Pallis says:

      Dear James, I’m glad that you enjoyed the show. I’m not clear which ‘little slips’ you’re referring to but do look at my reply to Malcolm below, and the information that I have put up. Hope you find this helpful.
      with best wishes

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