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


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.


From Crime to Punishment – part 2

October 27, 2009

If there were no watchmen around, there was no choice other than to run after the criminal yourself.  If you discovered a felony, you were legally obliged to apprehend those responsible and notify the constable.  Also, if a constable was trying to catch a felon, he could require people to join the ‘hue and cry’.

In this case, a man explains the steps he took to catch the highwayman:

This isn’t a Garrow case and it shows you just how swift and harsh the justice was.  No defence counsel, not even a prosecution.  Basically, the judge was in charge and played all the parts …

http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17830115-6&div=t17830115-6&terms=stop|theif|garrow#highlight


Mark Pallis speaking on Garrow in London

October 26, 2009

Hi,

If you enjoy Episode One of Garrow’s Law on Sunday and want to find out more, you can come and catch me giving a lecture on William Garrow at the Legal Biography Project of the London School of Economics on 3rd November from 1800h – 1930h . For more details:  http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/law/projects/legalbiog/lbp.htm

Hope to see you there!  Mark


From Crime to Punishment – part 1

October 26, 2009

In this category of blogs, I am going to set out what happened from the moment a crime was committed right up until the person was sentenced.  But I won’t tell the story myself, I’ll leave it to the people who actually experienced it ….

A common way for crimes to be detected is that a Night Watchman would hear or see something.  Have a look at the case of Henry Morgan 15 September 1784, we hear from a Watchman examined by Garrow in the Old Bailey.

http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17840915-1&div=t17840915-1&terms=stop|theif|garrow#highlight

Tomorrow, we’ll see how Victims could also bring cases ….

Mark Pallis


Garrow’s London

October 23, 2009

Garrow’s law is set in London at the end of the 1700s.  It was quite a time to be alive:  the American Revolutionary War had just ended, leaving thousands of disgruntled British soldiers looking for work; the had been a revolution in France, and back in England there winds of change were starting to blow.  People were starting to talk about rights, and about democracy. The movement to end slavery was getting going, women, like Mary Wollstonecraft, were asserting themselves and talking about the rights of women.  And reform was in the air, people were getting frustrated with the corruption in parliament and were hungry for change.

And all this was being played out in a new public arena.  There had been an explosion of newspapers and journals:

  • In 1770, London has 5 daily papers;
  • In the 1780s, it had 9 dailies, 8 tri-weeklys and 9 weeklys;
  • In the 1790s, it had 14 dailies, 7 tri-weeklys and 2 weeklys.

But whilst there was change on one side, on the other the ruling classes were battening down the hatches and steeling themselves.  They were quite with things as they were thank you very much!

Mark Pallis