Ep 4: Be upstanding!

November 26, 2009


So, it’s all over!  Thanks to the people that have taken the time to write to me – for the nice comments and for the constructive ones!  I am getting back to a few each day, so please forgive me if it takes a while!

Here are some of the inspirations behind Episode 4.

The opening case is one that you won’t find in the Old Bailey Online – it was indeed struck from the record.  However, a record of it survives in a pamphlet called ‘Modern Propensities’ that is available in the British Library and which a Professor drew my attention to.  It’s an incredible document, with a great etching on the front with a very happy looking composer Kotzwara on the front with a noose around his neck and a blushing bride to his side.  Basically, the pamphlet is an excuse to talk about sexual kicks from strangulation.  At the back of it is an account of the case and general reports of what Garrow said.  The final circumstances of exactly why she got off is not clear.  From memory, the pamphlet says something like the barristers approached the bench and after a short discussion, the prisoner was discharged.

I’ll write some stuff on the treason trial tomorrow.

with best wishes


Ep 4 … coming

November 24, 2009

Hi everyone.  Sorry for the delay.  I will put up some notes on Ep 4 later this week!

Episode 3 – some of the inspirations

November 16, 2009


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

Mark Pallis

Hanged or Hung?

November 13, 2009


Thanks Joyful Molly http://joyfulmolly.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/garrows-law-faq-servants-and-beards-and-wigs-oh-my/ for raising this:

” “Hangedhangedhanged! WTF scriptwriter! Men are HANGED, not HUNG!”

As far as grammar is concerned, you are correct.”

I always wondered about that too.  The answer, from my perspective, is that it’s both.  No!  Outrage!  I hear you cry!  However, have a look at these cases.  These two say ‘hung’ and the last one ‘hanged’.  You can’t argue with the proceedings!

Case 1: Garrow for the defence:

I was not married to him, he certainly would prosecute the prisoner as far as he could, and for my sake he would not wish to see him  hung,


Case 2: Garrow for the defence:


Have you never said to Smith, that you had Notely under your thumb, and that you would do his business for him? – No Sir, never in my life; I told Smith that Notely  hung a man here some time back; that was all that ever I said to him; I never said I would be a witness against him.

Case 3: Garrow v Sylvester:  The classic formulation:

each of you, be taken from hence to the place from whence you came, and from thence to the place of execution, there to be hanged by the necks until you are dead, and the Lord have mercy on your souls!


Fascinating fact: William Garrow

November 11, 2009

Someone asked me whether we had made up Garrow’s aggressiveness.  It’s certainly true that you can’t tell tone of voice from the proceedings but check this out.  This is taken from an 1832 article about Garrow.  The author is talking about Garrow’s cross examination style:

“He seemed every now and then to destroy, almost to annihilate, an adverse witness; and often he would, without effort and unperceived, be winding about him, throwing a net round, gradually contracting it into a noose … and then he would on a sudden pounce forth upon him and tear him to pieces.”

That was one of the things that we used to help get a sense of what Garrow was like in Court.

Mark Pallis

Episode 2: Some inspirations from my research

November 9, 2009


I hope you enjoyed Episode 2.

Before I get to the monster, I want to mention the first case that was featured – about the guy that had nicked the brass harness the guy in the employment of William Champion Crespigny.   This is inspired by a real case. The guy was a gent from Cavendish Square.  One of the things that was so striking was that Garrow really laid into him.  He didn’t approach him with any deference, or care about his rank or position, he saw everyone as being equal before the law.

The other thing that was striking about the case was that it showed Garrow putting the idea of everyone being presumed innocent until proven guilty into practice  – he doesn’t put the defendant on the stand and the defendant doesn’t say anything.  Everything is about testing the prosecution case.   Garrow wins, without the defendant having to speak and a new legal precident is on the way to being established.

If you are interested in reading more about this case, you can find the records of it on the Proceedings of the Old Bailey online, here:


Now, the Monster.  Again, this was inspired by a real case.  One of the things that I thought was interesting was that the press played a key role in whipping up a storm. The Monster was a real cause celebre at the time, maybe the first celebrity criminal.  It had london in a fever.  I was excited by the case because I thought that I gave a good window onto the role of the press, as well as on the topic of prosecutions for reward, rather than by by police.  The other reason was that it allowed us to touch on what’s known as the ‘cab rank rule’ .   This is the rule that says that barristers have to take whatever case they’re asked to do, regardless of how they feel about it.  In the words of the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg,

‘The “cab rank” rule is one of the glories of the Bar. It underscores that every member of the Bar is obliged, without fear or favour, to represent clients who offer themselves, regardless of how unpopular they may be in the community or elsewhere.’


As to the stuff that inspired the case, well, there really was a Monster who terrorised the streets of London, stabbing women in the bum, and also, and this really not nice, stabbing them in the face with a sharp implement disguised in bouquets of flowers.  For more info on the Monster, there are a few good sources of information. One is a book by Jan Bondeson:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/London-Monster-Sanguinary-Tale/dp/0812235762 This is really really thorough.  Of course, nothing beats going down the British Library and seeing the real stories as they were reported in the newspapers! It involved a number of legal complexities (all the stuff about the cutting of cloth etc) and the actual case was indeed respited for the 12 judges.

Here are some links that you might find interesting:

Also, Tony Marchant, writer and Co-creator was interviewed on Start The Week today.  It’s available on Iplayer.

Judge Buller – fascinating fact

November 5, 2009

In Garrow’s Law, Judge Buller is portrayed as a harsh traditionalist.  That’s true.  But get this:  the real Judge Buller was known in his time as Judge Thumb.  This was because in 1782 he is reported as saying that it was OK for a man to beat his wife, so long as the stick was no bigger than his thumb.  This was the caricatured by James Gilray in an etching.  Here is a link. http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/rule-of-thumb.html

Some of the inspirations in my research for Episode 1

November 2, 2009


I hope that you enjoyed the first episode of Garrow’s Law yesterday.  As they said in the opening sequence, the show is inspired by real cases from the time.  Below I mention a few of the things that helped play a role  in inspiring part of Sunday’s episode.

One of the themes of Episode 1 was Thieftakers.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, they were a bit like a cross between private detectives and policemen.   You may remember the exchange where Forrester the Thieftaker gets the better of Garrow?  Garrow asked him how long he had been in the honourable business of thieftaking, and Forrester comes back with the line ‘Longer than you’ve been a counsellor.’ And also the exchange “What, there was no blood money last Sessions? – If there were no thieves, how would you get a brief?”  Well, have a look at an actual exchange between Garrow and a Thieftaker in a case from 1785 where the Thieftaker gave as good, or better, than he got from Garrow!


The Thieftaker case in the Episode was about highway robbery.  There are loads of cases like this during our period.  A great place to go if you want to find out more is the website of the Old Bailey Proceedings Online.  If you are interested, go to www.oldbaileyonline.org and then select ‘Highway Robbery’ on the advanced search options.  I suggest looking at this case, with Garrow defending a Mr Pace accused of Highway Robbery. Garrow lost and Pace was sentenced to death. http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17881022-23-off105&div=t17881022-23#highlight

Another case you might enjoy is this one, again a Highway Robbery case with Garrow unsuccessfully defending and the accused being sentenced to death.  Here, Garrow goes into a lot of detail about the identity of a grey mare that was used in robbery:  http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17881022-19&div=t17881022-19&terms=grey|mare|garrow#highlight

Infanticide was the theme of the main case in Episode 1.  It was a special because in infanticide cases, the burden of proof was the opposite to what it was today. Whist on the one hand, if the woman was married and was prosecuted for killing a newborn child, the offence would be of murder and she would be presumed innocent.  However, if she was unmarried, like Elizabeth Jarvis in our episode, she would be presumed guilty, and the offence would be infanticide / concealing a birth.

A number of cases and played a part in helping to  inspire the case created for the show. Elizabeth Jarvis is the name of a woman accused of infanticide in 1800. She was found not guilty. http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t18000115-20-off104&div=t18000115-20#highlight

The cutting of the throat of a child happened in a number of cases during the 1700s.  If you would like to look at examples of cases where a cord was wrapped around the neck and the neck cut by mistake, I suggest looking at the following three infanticide cases. One ( http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17570526-22-off111&div=t17570526-22&terms=throat#highlight ) refers to a cord around neck, throat cut by mistake with a knife; a second, http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17570526-22-off111&div=t17570526-22&terms=throat#highlight  turned on the use of scissors and accidental cutting of neck; and third case http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17810530-1-off2&div=t17810530-1&terms=throat#highlight was about a poor wretched woman cutting cord with rough knife.

There are references in the Old Bailey archive to the ‘ hydrostatic test’ being used in evidence in infanticide cases. We also took some inspiration from a practice that was used whereby doctors would remove the dead babies’ lungs and try to float them, if they floated, the child breathed, but if they sank it was stillborn. This idea of floating a child’s lungs to see whether it breathed dates back a long way and was first used in the Old Bailey as an argument as early as 1737 http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17370420-18-off88&div=t17370420-18&terms=floated#highlight , and was used in court on several occasions subsequently. But by Garrow’s time, as he showed in his cross examination of the Doctor, medical authorities were beginning to move on.

Do you remember when Garrow was complaining about the thinness of his papers?  All of the restrictions that he faced – like not being allowed to address the jury – are true.  I’ll try to post some stuff about it this week if I get a chance.

If there are any other aspects that you’re interested in hearing more about, don’t hesitate to post a comment and I’ll do my best to help.

With best wishes

Mark Pallis

From Crime to Punishment – Gathering evidence

October 29, 2009

We have a crime, we have a suspect, but we’re not ready for the Old Bailey just yet.

Here is a nice example, with Garrow for the defence, where a victim of crime obtains a warrant from the magistate, and then, with the warrant in hand, goes and gets a constable to accompany him to the suspects’ house.  The accusation was that someone has stolen some meat.  … But when they got there, the cats had already gnawed it!!


From Crime to Punishment – Thieftakers

October 28, 2009

OK, so the crime has happened. How else would the suspect be brought to court?  A common option was to use a Thieftaker.  As you’ll know if you’re read the outline for this Sunday’s episode, Garrow defends Peter Pace, who is accused by renowned thief-taker Edward Forrester of robbing a man at gunpoint.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00nsp4s Thieftaking was most notorious in the 1720s – 50s, but carried on as long as there were rewards paid.  The Times newspaper was writing against the corrupting effects of the reward system well into the 1780s.  Thieftaking didn’t stop finally until 1818 when the reward system was abolished by Parliament.

The core idea is that Thieftakers are driven by the reward money.  They will do anything to get it.  However, they were not all bad, and many performed useful functions.   These included,

1) Recovering stolen property and claiming any private reward that was offered from the victim eg man’s horse stolen.  He offers a reward and puts an advert in the paper. You find it, bring it to him and claim the reward.

2) Apprehending criminals:  Often, private citizens would go to a Thieftaker and ask them to intercept a criminal.  Basically, the Thieftaker is like a private policeman. The Thieftaker is paid by getting some of the reward money offered by the state for successful conviction of criminals.

That’s it, let’s wait and see what happens in Episode 1 !!!

If you are interested in learning more about Thieftakers, have a look at the historical section of the Old Bailey Proceedings Online.  It gives you a great overview of the development of policing over a long period – much longer than just Garrow’s time.